COVID-19 Update:

The Bio Processing Innovation Centre remains open for clients who wish to access the facility, where additional safety protocols have been implemented to protect both staff and clients. Additionally, the pilot facility has received Health Canada approvals to produce hand sanitizers, which are currently being distributed to the Provincial Operations Centre and other Government of Alberta offices.

Overview

The Bio-Industrial Opportunities Section provides technical and business development support for the development, scale-up and commercialization of non-food value-added products and applications. Adding value to Alberta’s biomass resources helps to create jobs, stimulate economic diversification and grow the provincial economy.

A team of dedicated professionals can help you advance your bio-based project, from biomaterials and bio-based chemicals to bioenergy and natural health products. Our focuses include:

  • identifying new opportunities for agricultural/forestry processing and production of value-added products from waste streams and byproducts
  • maximizing value through fractionation of biomass to isolate high value ingredients
  • facilitating commercialization and market access through industry development and extension activities

The Bio-Industrial Opportunities Section offers a suite of facilities, equipment and expertise to help companies succeed. The assets are uniquely positioned between lab-scale and full-scale production, giving companies the ability to test and improve their proof-of-concept ideas and processes before committing to full production.

The Section operates the Bio Processing Innovation Centre (BPIC), which provides essential product development and scale-up support for fibre decortication and refinement, grain fractionation, separation, extraction, polymerization and extrusion. With a natural and non-prescription health products (NNHP) license from Health Canada, the facility can also provide interim manufacturing services for cosmetic/personal care products and NNHPs. The facility also has an industry hemp license that allows clients to develop hemp-based products.

Fee schedule

Service Fee
Engineering services $350 per day*
Technical consultation $350 per day
Benchtop development – by section staff $350 per day
Benchtop development – by client staff $200 per day
Pilot plant development $500 per day
Interim processing $500 to $1,200 per day
Post-processing cleaning $25 per person per hour
Handling and storage $0.10 per kg per day
Seminars and demonstrations Cost plus 10%

* Daily rates are based on a 7.25-hour day.

These fees apply to Alberta companies or companies that have processing facilities in Alberta. Fees for out-of-province clients will be negotiated prior to signing a contract but in most cases will be double those quoted above.

Engineering services and technical consultation

Section scientists or engineers may provide these services. The charges relate to the time spent on a contracted project and can apply to work done at the facility or at the client’s facility.

Benchtop development

This refers to the use of the laboratory for product development. Clients may use the facility on their own, or with assistance from a branch scientist or engineer (note the difference in fees).

Pilot plant development

This refers to the use of the BPIC facility for the commercialization of products under development, or the production of products for testing or marketing purposes. Included in this fee is a technologist who will assist you with equipment use.

Interim processing

This refers to the use of BPIC for a specified period of time beyond the developmental period. Clients may contract the use of the pilot plant to manufacture their products for the market while their own facilities are being upgraded or constructed. The daily fee will depend on the complexity of the process and the amount and type of space being used. All costs related to ingredients, manufacturing, packaging and shipment of products produced in the pilot plant, and cleaning by a third-party contractor are the responsibility of the client.

Post-processing cleaning

Fees are charged to recover the cost of pilot plant cleaning services to meet building requirements.

Handling and storage

Storage of finished products in a controlled temperature environment and of dry goods is limited by the availability of space. Fees will be applied only when excessive amounts or lengths of storage occur.

Services and equipment

Value-added fractionation and NNHP program

The Value-added Fractionation and NNHP Program helps to accelerate product development, optimization and commercialization by providing business development tools and technical services to emerging and established companies. A dedicated formulation lab enables clients to develop novel cosmetic, personal care and topical NNHPs while the BPIC facility is equipped with specialized equipment for extraction and purification on a pilot scale.

Our team can also provide training on specialized equipment and help companies navigate regulatory hurdles in the NNHP sector. We have a robust Quality Management system ensuring Good Manufacturing Practices are adhered to.

Dimple vents and tank in a warehouse
Figure 1. Dimple vats and Tanks
Close-up of Timatic Micro machine
Figure 2. Timatic Micro
Close-up of UHPLC machine
Figure 3. UHPLC
Process Capacity
High temperature/pressure reactions Contact for details
Pressurized extraction 0.5 to 2 litres (lab scale)
Essential oil extraction 2 litres (lab scale) to 30 litres (BPIC)
Thermo-combustion protein analysis LECO FP-628
Low/medium pressure chromatography Contact for details
Ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography Dionex UltiMate 3000 HPLC with IR, UV and ELSD detectors
Membrane filtration Tubular and spiral membranes (MF, UF, NF and RO)
Near-infrared spectroscopy Contact for details
Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy Contact for details
Cosmetic and NNHP formulation Fully-stocked laboratory for formulation development

Since 2017, BPIC has operated with a Health Canada NNHP site licence and a 4,800 ft2 wet processing area that accommodates extraction and purification of a wide range of biomass including oilseeds, cereal grains, specialty crops, botanicals and biomass secondary process streams. Process equipment is available for purifying and concentrating crude botanical extracts, including a pilot scale spray dryer which can remove water at 20 to 60 litres per hour.

Pilot scale wet processing

Close-up of oil expeller machine
Figure 4. Oil expeller
Close-up of fractional distillation unit
Figure 5. Fractional Distillation Unit
Freeze dryer and SPX spray dryer units
Figure 6. Freeze dryer (left) and SPX spray dryer (right)
Process Capacity
Milling Contact for details
Sieving Contact for details
Seed oil expelling 200-300 kg seed processed/hr
Filter press 24" plate and frame; 1,000 L/hr depending on filter porosity
Pressurized extraction 100 and 200L vessels (BPIC)
Membrane filtration Tubular and spiral membranes up to 1,000L/hr depending on the membranes used (NF, UF, NF and RO)
Fractional distillation 22L Batch Fractionation with Max. temperature up to 250oC and vacuum up to 30 mmHg
Freeze drying SP Ultra pilot and small production lyophilizer with Max. condenser capacity 35 L
Tray drying Mechanical convection oven with the capcity of 24 Cu. ft and max. temp of 350oC
Spray drying 20 to 60 kg per hour (BPIC)

Clean room processing

Process Capacity
Batch processing 20 to 2,000 litres
Wax melting and hot filling 400 litres
Automated bottle, jar and tube labelling Contact for details
Packaging Bottles and jars from 15 mL to 4,000 mL; tubes from 60 to 250 mL
Sample filler Up to 50 mL
Piston filler 50 to 4,000 mL
Bottle capping tube sealing Contact for details
Product coder Contact for details

Biomaterial development and characterization

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Biomaterial Program supports the commercialization of bio-based materials from agriculture and forestry biomass. The abundance of feedstock such as hemp, flax and cereal fibres, as well as forestry residues, presents an emerging opportunity for Alberta to develop the biomaterial sector. In addition, biomaterials can also be derived from agri-food processing side streams that are normally destined for the landfill and thus supports the agriculture value-added industry.

Close-up of Fitz mill machine
Figure 7. Fitz mill
Close-up of Stereo Microscope
Figure 8. Stereo microscope
Close-up of instron machine
Figure 9. Instron
Turning left when towing a trailer – note path of the vehicle and trailer wheels.
Figure 10. LECO FP-628
Close-up of Nova 4200 analyzer (BET) machine
Figure 11. Nova 4200 analyzer (BET)
Close-up of Injection molding machine
Figure 12. Injection molding
Close-up of Beckman Coulter LS 13320 machine
Figure 13. Beckman Coulter LS 13320
Process Capacity
Size reduction by milling machines Lab and pilot scale; particle size greater than 250 microns
Classification by particle size US mesh 325 to 7
Pre-treatment of fibre materials Surface treatment of fibre with wet processing or extrusion
Surface area and pore size analysis Nova 4200 analyzer
Fibre dimension measurements SMZ800N with 8:1 zoom ratio enabling high resolution observation
(Vis-)NIR analysis Benchtop and portable
Particle size profiling Beckman Coulter LS 13320 (0.4-2000 µm) or sieve shaker (25 -3350 µm)
Extrusion and compounding Feeding rate up to 100's of kgs; hot face die and strand die available
Injection moulding Specimens from 2 to 12.5 mL; mold of ASTM D638 Type IV and ISO 527-2-1A available
Compression molder Thickness of 0.1 to 5 mm according to ASTM and ISO standards
Tensile, flexural and compressive tests Instron 5950 performing to ASTM and ISO standards
Pelletization Unit pelletizer and pilot pelleting system
Pellet durability and bulk density testing Durability tester with 4 chambers; bulk density testing with 1-litre or 1-quart option

Resources

Contact

Connect with the Bio-industrial Opportunities Section:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-644-8118
Fax: 780-638-3586
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

Ken Gossen, Executive Director:
Phone: 780-980-4860
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

Hong Qi, Director:
Phone: 780-644-8128
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

Address:
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Bio-industrial Opportunities Section
O.S. Longman Building
4th Floor, 6909 116 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T6H 4P2