When you think about it, it makes sense that automobile plants might have some relationship to bumper crops. At least, it makes sense when Trent University biomaterials researcher Suresh Narine is on the case.
His innovative research seeks out ways to make manufactured goods – everything from healthy, edible sandwich spreads to artificial hips to, yes, car bumpers – out of renewable resources grown in farmers’ fields.
Over the past decade, Narine has made it his mission to change the world of everyday materials. He has a broad and ambitious agenda, working to reinvent medical supplies, product packaging, car parts, lubricants, waxes and greases and much more, using agricultural oilseed crops such as soy beans and canola. In addition, he researchers certain algae that also produce renewable, non-polluting oils that are versatile in their industrial applications.
He hopes that this research will lead to the replacement of many products that are currently produced from petroleum and other fossil resources.
Given that these fossil resources are both non-renewable and polluting, Narine’s field of biomaterials is gaining urgency and momentum. The production methods and materials he studies are not only cleaner, but they are also easier to recycle and reuse.
“We are working to transform thinking from the ‘cradle to grave’ model to ‘cradle to cradle,’” he says. “We seek zero-waste models that are truly and entirely renewable.”
He recognizes that his industrial solutions must be practical as well as virtuous. One of the projects he is working on is an additive for biodiesel that allows it to be useable at lower temperatures – providing greater ease and flexibility for using green energy in countries with cold climates.
“Our research offers an alternate solution – to employ agriculture to create renewable feed stocks that can be converted into materials more in sync with the natural carbon cycle,” said Narine.
**Major funders for this research include Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc., Council of Ontario Universities in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster and Industry Canada Community Adjustment Fund, the Martin Family, and Trent University.