(July 18, 2008 - Thunder Bay, ON) As organized under the leadership of Dr. Aicheng Chen, Canada Research Chair in Material and Environmental Chemistry, Lakehead University recently hosted a one-day symposium on lignin research and development. The symposium provided Dr. Chen and Dr. Justin Jiang, Associate Professor of Chemistry, the opportunity to discuss their NaturalSciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Project with leaders, scientists, and engineers from industry partners including the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, AbitibiBowater, and FPInnovations.
Lignin is a by-product that is produced by pulp and paper mills. Although it is typically burned to produce heat and energy, researchers are now trying to find a means to convert it to value-added products such as chemical feed stocks. This would provide a solution to the depletion of non-renewable fossil resources, promote Canadian leadership in green chemistry and a bio-based economy, aid in the development of novel technologies for the economic utilization of lignin, and benefit the pulp and paper industry as a whole.
"The Minister's 2005 Council Report of Forest Sector Competitiveness identified at least 12 forest industry mills at risk of closure in Ontario alone," recalls Dr. Chen. "The Canadian pulp and paper industry must identify new value-added products in order to stay competitive, and this event allowed us to discuss some possibilities with our valued industry partners."
Some northern Ontario communities have already been devastated by mill closures as thousands of jobs have been lost over the past six years. Should all 12 at-risk mills close, the Province could lose up to 38,000 direct and indirect jobs and $1 billion in provincial tax revenue.
Alongside Drs. Chen and Jiang, the symposium's speaking panel comprised Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Dean, Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies, Lakehead University; Dr. David A. Benko, R&D Fellow, Goodyear, Akron, Ohio, USA; Jack Porter, AbitibiBowater, Thunder Bay; Drs. Thomas C. Browne and Michael Paleologou, FPInnovations, Montreal; Dr. Leon Magdzinski, National Research Council of Canada; and Bruce Holm, Manager, Innovation Management Office, Lakehead University. Topics discussed included lignin's sources, chemicals, by-products, and potential applications, as well as biorefinery initiatives and future research plans of the NSERC Strategic Project.
Media: Dr. Chen is available for media interview and can be reached directly at 807-343-8318. For additional information, please contact Heather Scott, Communications Officer, 807-472-9113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for innovative programs and cutting-edge research. With a main campus located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a campus in Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead has over 7,500 students and 2,000 faculty and staff, and is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In 2006, Research Infosource Inc. named Lakehead UniversityCanada's
ResearchUniversity of the Year in the undergraduate category. For more information on
LakeheadUniversity, visit www.lakeheadu.ca