Home Campus News New Technology at Loyalist College Signals First of its Kind in Ontario

New Technology at Loyalist College Signals First of its Kind in Ontario

October 13, 2005

Below is the original news release published at the time of this event. While some references are no longer current, the article provides details about important milestones in Loyalist’s history.

On October 13, Loyalist College held the official opening of its new Supercritical CO2 Extraction Laboratory. This lab will be used for a material processing technology known as CO2 Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE) that signals the start of a new applied research project and the first college-level training program of its kind in Ontario.

The research laboratory is a collaborative project centred at Loyalist College, with two institutional partners, and one industrial partner, with 40 percent of the funding coming from the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT). The Institutional partners are the University of Ottawa and the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. The industrial partner is Bioniche Life Sciences. The partners have already identified several exciting commercial plant products. The Loyalist laboratory will develop the protocols for extraction of the active ingredients in these plants and will be capable of producing enough extract for complete clinical trials.

Many of today’s plant extracts originate from the use of petrochemical solvents — such as Hexanes and Petro-ethers — and residues of these solvents are always present in the extracted products. Most of these residues are toxic to humans and animals. Coffee used to be decaffeinated with Carbon Tetrachloride but now high pressure CO2 is being used, and the problem with headaches due to solvent residue has been eliminated. High pressure, supercritical CO2 is an environmentally friendly alternative and there is little doubt that it is the wave of the future. The contribution of this platform technology to improve food and health products, combined with the positive environmental impact, is significant. However, significant development work has to be done to move beyond the simple processes like decaffeination, and Loyalist’s research lab is capable of leading edge work in this field. The pilot plant, delivered two months ago, is the most advanced in North America today.

“The official opening of our Supercritical Extraction Lab is an exciting event, marking Loyalist’s applied research leadership in this very new area of technology,” said College President Maureen Piercy. “Thanks to our partners Bioniche Life Sciences, the University of Ottawa, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and support from our provincial government through the Ontario Innovation Trust, we are able to provide leading edge training for our Biosciences students. Congratulations to Dean Aatos Lehtila, researcher Kari Kramp and others who have made this possible.”

Loyalist’s laboratory is a significant addition to South Eastern Ontario. The Eastern Lake Ontario Regional Innovation Network (ELORIN) sees it as a major addition in developing the region’s initiatives in food processing, food ingredients, medicine and biotechnology. ELORIN is one of 11 regional innovation networks in Ontario that has recently been formed and that the Minister of Research and Innovation and Premier Dalton McGuinty see as crucial in developing Ontario’s economy in the next several years. ELORIN’s Board includes directors from Queen’s University, Bioniche Life Sciences, Millennium Biologix and other key members of the economic development community along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. Loyalist’s research laboratory will be developing partnerships with many of the organizations represented by this group. Ontario has already become involved with a natural ingredient company in the United States to develop new and improved products that they will be taking to the world market because they now have pilot plant CO2 capability at Loyalist.

“Bioniche is pleased to be a partner in the CO2 extraction project at Loyalist,” said Graeme McRae, President and CEO of Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. “Our Botanicals division will benefit greatly from this locally accessible technology in developing methods for efficient extraction and fractionation of botanical compounds that can be used in commercial products.”

“I think this is a wonderful development,” commented Professor John Arnason from the University of Ottawa. “It shows collaboration between industry, colleges and universities. Most importantly, it is a green technology — and the future is green.”

“The Innovation Trust Board was very impressed and pleased to support Loyalist’s research application”, says David Bogart, the Trust’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “I have no doubt that this investment award will help Loyalist College in their fine work of bringing to Ontario the technologies and jobs of tomorrow”.

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Media Contact: Jennifer Shea, Bioniche, (613) 966-8058 ext. 1250, Bob Kalbfleisch, OIT, (519) 572-1112, or Maureen Piercy, Loyalist College, (613) 969-1913, ext. 2200.

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