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GreenCentre Proof of Principle funding helps University of Ottawa researchers explore potential of discoveries for greener antifreeze, better product protection

Oct. 31, 2011

KINGSTON/OTTAWA - A ‘green’ antifreeze and better product protection are the targets of two University of Ottawa green chemistry discoveries recently awarded $60,000 in Proof of Principle funding from GreenCentre Canada.

The researchers’ discoveries are based on unique properties displayed in two natural sources: fish and garlic. Their technologies have potential applications in oil and gas pipeline sector and in product manufacturing.

Dr. Robert Ben of the Department of Chemistry received $30,000 to further develop biological antifreeze molecules for use in the gas and oil pipeline industry. Dr. Ben’s technology prevents the formation of clathrates, lattices of frozen water crystals that surround gas molecules, forming clumps and blocking pipes, causing breakage and subsequent environmental damage. 

Mimicking the antifreeze proteins that enable deep-sea fish to survive in below-freezing waters, Dr. Ben’s technology prevents the formation of clathrates more effectively than existing inhibitors, and is active in extremely minute quantities. Low cost and non-toxic, it offers an economical and environmentally friendly alternative for the protection of overland oil and gas pipelines in colder regions, and in deep well gas and oil exploration. 

“This technology has the dual benefits of being more potent, meaning less needs to be used, while also being more environmentally friendly,” says Andrew Pasternak, Commercial Development Director at GreenCentre Canada. “Its potential to prevent pipeline damage offers considerable environmental benefit to the oil and gas industry.”

Dr. Derek Pratt, also of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Ottawa, received $30,000 to create the next generation of his ‘reversible’ anti-oxidant molecules.

Dr. Pratt’s technology targets free radicals,  the molecules that cause substances to break down when they are exposed to ultraviolet light. Anti-oxidants slow down the process of UV degradation, and are currently used in a wide variety of consumer products, including UV-resistant coatings, personal care products such as sunscreen, and food packaging.

Based on the anti-oxidant mechanism seen in garlic, Dr. Pratt’s molecules are unique in their ability to produce antioxidants on demand while reverting to an inactive state when UV light is not present, resulting in longer-lasting UV protection.

“Their reversible properties mean they only produce antioxidant when needed,” says Lynn Leger, Commercialization Director at GreenCentre. “This gives them the potential to have a longer shelf life than many standard antioxidants.”

“We are pleased to see these investments in technologies that have such a significant potential impact on products that are used every day.” says Joe Irvine, Director, Technology Transfer and Business Enterprise Office at University of Ottawa. “These collaborations with GreenCentre Canada provide expertise and resources to help our researchers advance promising research discoveries out of the laboratory and into broad use by society.”

To date, GreenCentre has awarded more than $350,000 in Proof of Principle funding to 14 researchers at 13 universities across Canada. Funded projects include energy-efficient compounds for removing CO2 from industrial gas emissions, the development of organic superconducting polymers and a green method for removing harmful metals from industrial wastewater.

GreenCentre expects to award up to 25 funding grants annually in support of technologies that have strong commercialization potential but require further basic research or testing before they can be reassessed for market value.

Mary Anne Beaudette
Director, Communications
GreenCentre Canada
P: 613. 507. 4700 ext. 129
C: 613. 483. 5000

About GreenCentre Canada:
GreenCentre Canada is a national Centre of Excellence for commercializing early-stage Green Chemistry discoveries generated by academic researchers and industry.  Funded by the governments of Ontario and Canada, and industry, GreenCentre Canada is dedicated to developing environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional chemical and manufacturing products and practices. It is governed and operated with the assistance of industry members from across the chemical value chain. The centre is located at the Innovation Park at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

About University of Ottawa:
The University of Ottawa, one of Canada’s top research-intensive universities, is committed to research excellence and to an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge creation, which attracts the best academic talent from across Canada and around the world. 
The Technology Transfer and Business Enterprise (TTBE) office provides services to the University of Ottawa research community that increase the impact of research through the creation of partnerships that foster innovation and facilitate technology development and commercialization.

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