BIC spearheading efforts to develop quality standards for bioproducts

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) Executive Director Sandy Marshall at the inaugural Canadian BioDesign Conference in Sarnia. September 12, 2018 Photo by Melanie Irwin

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) is going to be ramping up efforts to develop a set of quality standards for bioproducts made from agricultural sources.

The goal is to help producers better understand the quality standards needed to market raw materials to processors. It will also ensure customers of processors that bioproducts can replace traditional materials in terms of quality and performance.

BIC Executive Director Sandy Marshall said the standards will cover a number of products.

“It covers things like corn stover, wheat straw, and flax straw,” said Marshall. “We’re going to develop a bioeconomy where we’re using agricultural residues for feedstocks for making biofuels or jet fuels or any of those sorts of things. There needs to be quality standards in place for those materials so that the producers of the fuels and the chemicals know what it is they’re buying. The project started in western Canada, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. BIC got involved with farmers in that region and now we’re working to expand this quality network to include Ontario, Quebec and the rest of Canada as well.”

Marshall said they also want to help scientists look into plant genetics to develop new crop varieties for the production of bioproducts.

“Flax and hemp is where they’re doing the most work in that area, not so much in the cereal crops like corn, wheat and so on,” he said. “You need to know the quality of the materials so that you can optimize your processes to make good, efficient products. It’s not really about the quality of the fuels or any of those sorts of things, it’s really so that the companies that are making the fuels know what the quality of their feedstocks are so that they can optimize their plants to be efficient.”

The research is being made possible through a $1.8 million investment under the federal government’s AgriAssurance Program.

It’s being done in partnership with Biomass Quality Network of Canada.

The Canadian bioproducts sector generates about $4.3 billion in sales each year.

The Government of Canada is targeting to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050.