World-Class Biomaterials Research Program Created at Trent University


Top Research Talent Recruited From Alberta to Ontario to Lead New Biomaterials Research Program in Peterborough

Wednesday, October 21, 2009, Peterborough

Trent University today announced the creation of the Trent Biomaterials Research Program, a new world-class, groundbreaking laboratory and research program focused on the utilization of plant oils (lipids) to create new biomaterials, led by Dr. Suresh Narine, a pioneer and leader in this emerging field.

“Our research offers an alternative solution – to employ agriculture (fats and oils) to create renewable feed stocks that then can be converted using science to create materials more environmentally benign and more in sync with the natural carbon cycle to abate and combat climate change,” said Dr. Narine, who was recruited to Trent from the University of Alberta. “On behalf of my team of researchers and Trent University, I would like to offer our deep appreciation to all of our generous founding partners and funders for their financial commitment that will place Trent’s Biomaterials Research Program among one of the top facilities of its kind in the world.”

To date, $2.5-million has been raised to bring Dr. Narine and his team of researchers to Trent and to set up the new lab, which, according to Dr. Narine, will be “the best built lab in the world for lipid and biomaterials research.” Founding partners and funders include:

    • Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc., Bolingbrook, Illinois - $1,000,000
    • Ontario Soybean Growers - $500,000
    • Anonymous philanthropist to establish the Biomaterials Innovation Fund - $500,000
    • Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster and the Community Adjustment Fund - $500,000

In addition, support has also been provided by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for equipment.

 “The commercialization potential of Trent’s Biomaterials Research Program is impressive and matched only by its many ecological benefits including reclaiming carbons, adding value to agricultural commodities, creating sustainable products and abating climate change,” said  Dr. Steven E. Franklin, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University. “Trent is very grateful to all of the founding partners and investors for their significant and generous investments that will generate groundbreaking new research with an international impact.”

Biomaterials represent a multidisciplinary approach to the development of new and functional, environmentally-responsible materials from renewable, sustainable agricultural feedstock, using: synthetic organic chemistry; microbial and enzymatic modification; materials chemistry and physics; and polymers physics. The resulting products include: healthy, functional foods and food matrices; functional, toxin-free polymers; functional waxes and greases; lubricants with specialized functionalities; cosmetics; and fuels.

Within the Biomaterials Research Program at Trent, Dr. Narine and his team will study the synthesis, structure, and functionality of biomaterials from lipid feedstock. Phase 1 of 2 phases is complete, with Phase 2 slated for completed in September 2010. When completed, the Trent Biomaterials Research Program will be among the top one percent of laboratories in the world focussed on lipid bioproducts and their structure-function relationships.

An internationally-renowned expert in the field of Biomaterials, Dr. Suresh Narine has spent the last decade dedicated to discovering ways to create the same materials we know and rely on, like plastics, and used in a range of products from colostomy bags to car bumpers, from better, more environmentally-friendly agricultural oilseed crops such as soy beans and canola.  In a world of finite fossil oil resources, it is a field that is gaining urgency and momentum.

The traditional thinking about product life cycle is being transformed by Dr. Narine’s pioneering biomaterials research. The “cradle to grave” model will be replaced by “cradle to cradle” zero waste models, with the innate capability of biomaterials products assuming a new functionality at end of life, even if it is as compost enriching soil.    

A Trent University alumnus, Dr. Narine, who is originally from Guyana, completed both his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Peterborough. In Alberta, he was one of four Alberta Value Added Corporation Chairs with the University of Alberta, where he built the Alberta Lipid Utilization Research Program, focused on the utilization of fats and oils for the production of industrial materials, high value edible applications, and cosmetic ingredients. As an NSERC Industrial Chair in Lipid Utilization, Dr. Narine also built the world’s leading agri-food materials science lab and plant facility and, among other feats, developed the technology to convert canola oil and other vegetable oils to biodegradable plastics. He is also director of Guyana’s Institute of Applied Science and Technology and author of Guyana’s Agro-Energy strategy. For his work, Dr. Narine is regarded as a pioneer of bioenergy and agro-energy in Guyana and the Caribbean.


For more information, please contact:

Dr. Suresh Narine, Trent Biomaterials Research Program, (705) 748-1011, ext. 6105