Helping to Commercialize
Sustainable Technology and Processes

ICFAR Supports Biofuel
Commercialization Opportunities

Franco BerrutiDr. Franco Berruti
ICFAR director
Following its recent agreement to collaborate with the Bioindustrial Innovation Centre (BIC) on supporting the development and commercialization of biotechnology opportunities, the Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resources (ICFAR) looks forward to expanding its relationship with the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance.

"The three organizations share a common goal in supporting the commercialization of bioindustrial and biobased-chemical processes that will help position Canada as a leader in the development of sustainable biorefining, biofuels and biobased chemical industries," says Dr. Murray McLaughlin, president of the SCA and executive director of the BIC.

BIC provides lab and pilot plant facilities for industrial-sized testing and research. The SCA supports innovation, development, commercialization and related business activities and projects in the area of green and sustainable chemistry. ICFAR has slightly smaller scale pilot plant and lab facilities.


Located in a 20,000 sq. ft. facility a few minutes north of London, Ontario, ICFAR( is a research institute of The University of Western Ontario's Faculty of Engineering. ICFAR is a leader in green process engineering, undertaking research and development activities, as well as contracted research services, in the optimized production and analysis of renewable chemicals and co-products. In addition, ICFAR applies fluidized bed technology to improve the efficiency of oil upgrading from non-traditional sources.

"We develop within ICFAR the first step to commercialization," says ICFAR director general and cofounder Franco Berruti. "We take technologies from the labs and adapt them to the pilot plant level. The logical continuum to that is the BIC, which provides larger scale demonstration facilities with a more significant participation from industry. From that point, the technology should be ready to go out the door and be utilized."

Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resources Sustainable Chemistry AllianceDr. Murray McLaughlin (middle) and Dr. Franco Berruti (at right) signing MOU

He adds that ICFAR has a strong commitment towards the training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at its facilities and BIC offers the significant benefit of large scale demonstration and industry interaction as part of the educational process. "For example, if we have shorter term yet large scale industrial opportunities that arise within ICFAR, these could be developed at the BIC. If the BIC comes across opportunities that may be longer term, or in which graduate students could be involved in specific projects, ICFAR could be the research provider and students again benefit through industrial interaction in the research and development process." ICFAR also has access to a large number of academic experts at The University of Western Ontario, who are able to provide additional knowhow to facilitate projects undertaken by the BIC.

Berruti says joint proposals to industry from ICFAR and BIC could involve, where appropriate, project execution in part at both facilities. "We also have the flexibility to transfer personnel between facilities and to add personnel to the team to meet the requirements of projects. We want to be matchmakers and have the ability to respond to the needs of industry in the most effective way possible."

Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resourcesphotos:
Michelle Sullivan, Picture This Image Studios
The partners are already working on joint submissions for projects at the national level and Berruti sees strong potential for collaboration on international projects that would utilize Canadian technologies.

Berruti says the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance plays a critical role in helping ICFAR and the BIC establish a network within industry. "The SCA is committed to developing a bioeconomy in Canada, to which ICFAR and BIC can greatly contribute. The expertise that SCA can provide is fundamental to us in creating visibility in the industrial community.

Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resources

Opened in October, 2009, ICFAR provides fundamental and applied research and development activities in the fields of production of renewable fuels and chemicals, heavy oil conversion and sustainable technologies. The institute's goal is to quickly move research from lab benches to pilot plant/demonstration projects, paving the way for Ontario biofuel and chemical innovations to reach the global marketplace. Among other activities, the institute houses facilities to test next generation biofuel technologies.

Spring 2011 - SusChemAlliance - Page 2
Spring 2011 - SusChemAlliance - Page 2