British Columbia microbiologist eyes pulp and paper waste as feedstock

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In Canada, a researcher at the University of British Columbia is looking to convert black liquor—a waste product from the region’s large pulp and paper industry—into useful chemical products such as adhesives and foams.

Armed with a $500,000 grant from Genome BC, UBC microbiologist and Canada Research Chair in Microbial Catabolism and Biocatalysis Lindsay Eltis is researching bacterial enzymes and pathways involved in degrading aromatic compounds and steroids found in the liquor.

“Genome BC invests in these types of projects because there is economic value attached to the science,” Catalina Lopez-Correa, chief scientific officer and vice president, sectors, at Genome BC, tells UBC Science.  “There’s a huge opportunity to enhance the value of forestry by-products to not only add to advances and innovation in BC’s economy, but also in the interest of preserving the environment.”