The Lipid Chemistry Group at the University of Alberta is a research and development group whose mandate is to create wealth and innovation in Alberta’s agriculture industry by creating new product and market opportunities. LCG is uniquely structured to take commercial advantage of cutting-edge, fundamental research in lipid utilization. Products and processes developed at LCG will allow Alberta’s growers and processors to benefit directly as plant oils are converted to products of higher commercial value than traditional products.
LCG’s scientific goals are to develop economically feasible synthetic routes to high value chemicals from plant oil feedstocks. Major projects include investigating methods to replace petrochemical polyol with plant oil polyol for the production of insulated panels for the construction industry, and developing a polyol for use in the manufacture of interior automotive parts. A synthetic route for commercially useful biopolyols from canola oil may help to replace some of the nearly five million tonnes of petrochemical polyol manufactured each year for the $10 billion global polyurethane market. The global market for polyurethanes has been growing at an average rate of over 7% per annum for the last 15 years.
LCG’s biopolymers research continues as interest in renewable sources of chemicals and “green chemistry” production of materials and chemicals is increasing worldwide. There is already considerable interest in bio-based polyols, with several huge multi-nationals producing and selling bio-polyols, and converting them into commercial products.
With a growing consumer interest in replacing petrochemical-derived plastics and foams by equivalent materials made largely from renewable resources, now is the time to create new markets for Alberta’s lipid resources.