Remaking the World's Materials Sustainably
Unique in North America, the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research (TCBR) is on the cutting edge of research and technology development that will transform our world. Working to create a more sustainable future is at the heart of the work being conducted by the TCBR. Our focus on development, agricultural utilization and geographical, environmental and commercial impacts, sets Trent University's biomaterials approach apart. This is a research program where science meets social science and humanities, and where the creation and use of biomaterials is being examined within an ethical framework. One of only a handful of programs of its kind in the world, the TCBR is a leader in this life-changing realm of research.
What is the TCBR doing?
The TCBR's unique interdisciplinary nature examines the full spectrum of the biomaterials field from the crop seed to the development of biobased products and the implications of their use.
- Implementing seed modification for enhanced molecular profiles and functionalities
- Developing sound agronomic practices for modified crops
- Identifying transformed materials from crop residues, to produce forms of carbon with long-term residence time in the soil, in essence utilizing soil capacity for carbon sequestration
Organic Chemistry and Materials Science
- Utilizing unique chemical and physical techniques to turn natural oils into green chemicals, biomaterials and bioproducts.
- Creating environmentally-friendly, waste-free reincarnations of materials and products currently manufactured from petrochemicals (lubricants, waxes and car bumpers, for example) and creating components for edible, cosmetic, agricultural and industrial uses.
- Monitoring the total life cycle of natural oil-based materials – the energy associated with their lifespan, safe disposal of spent materials and the potential for toxic waste.
- Developing techniques to make biomaterials without the use of toxins – this is our "Cradle to Cradle" approach; ensuring carbon released from biomaterials can be sequestered in successive crop cycles.
Landscape and Geographical Analysis
- Assessing land use and maximizing sustainable land productivity in order to reduce our carbon footprint.
- Investigating carbon sequestration options from sinks of both biomass and soil organic matter.
- Assessing land suitability and crop productivity.
- Determining the spatial variability of sources of raw biomaterials.
- Monitoring landscape scale changes of all land cover, biomass and land productivity over time.
Business Development and Human Factors
- Identifying, creating and integrating markets: developing an effective business strategy to create a demand for biomaterials.
- Developing a transdisciplinary understanding of issues, barriers and key stakeholders in order to commercialize the need and use of biomaterials and create a more sustainable future.
- Considering ethics in the production, utilization, implementation, commercialization and recycling of natural oil-based biomaterials.
- Highlighting why biomaterials research is important and how it will impact all of us.
- Developing policy tools that can help in understanding risks and ensuring safe use of biomaterials.
- Encouraging informed decisions by society regarding biomaterials innovations.
How is the TCBR doing this work?
Through funding from partners who share our vision of a more sustainable world, including Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc., Archer Daniels Midland, Pepsico, the Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Industry Canada, Ontario Centres of Excellence, and the Peterborough Innovation Cluster, led by Trent University.