The 279 sq. m (3000 sq. ft) facility, funded by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, has recently been equipped with over $1.2 million in new, industrial-grade scientific equipment designed for the isolation of valuable components from Saskatchewan crops.
The facility contains equipment used in the extraction and purification of large amounts of naturally occurring molecules. The facility can operate under extreme process conditions, allowing extractions to be conducted in the presence of strong acid, strong base, high temperature and high pressure, and concentrating extracted materials prior to purification.
The equipment's various functions will allow continued research, increase productivity and teaching capacity, and support the creation of new spin-off businesses in the growing food and bioproducts sector.
Unique to Western Canada, the pilot plant will allow researchers to look for natural product in crops that have potentially useful applications in areas as diverse as foods, biofuels, new drugs, vaccines and nanomaterials for use in human and animal health. Co-operative research and development with industry partners will be a mandate of the facility.
Research conducted in the pilot plant can be taken directly to industry where it can be commercialized. With its 'industrial scale-up' tools, the pilot plant is the ideal facility from which many areas of crop utilization research can be supported.
"Our government is committed to innovation and research," said Minister of Agriculture Bob Bjornerud. "This pilot plant will support Saskatchewan's agriculture industry by bringing together key pieces of equipment in one spot to help researchers continue their work on bioprocessing."
"This unique bioprocessing facility highlights the innovative approach that the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and the university employ to advance the province's agricultural potential," said Mary Buhr, dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. "Together we can develop new uses for crops, understand their natural properties, and devise better methods for our province's industrial sector.
Exposing our students to such a facility ensures there is a highly-qualified workforce that has the knowledge and skills to produce food, fibre, energy, and other renewable bioproducts."
For more information, contact:
Kira Paluck, Communications Co-ordinator
College of Agriculture and Bioresources
University of Saskatchewan
Tel: (306) 966-6873