Virtual Bioenergy Symposium: July 8, 2020

Do you want to find out more about the Bioenergy sector in Alberta? Join Susan Carlisle (Clean Energy Manager, Alberta Innovates) at our next Virtual Bioenergy Symposium on July 8, 2020 from 12:00-1:00pm MDT.

Register here.

For information on past sessions, visit our symposium archive page.



Susan Carlisle
Clean Energy Manager
Alberta Innovates






“Under Construction: Refocussing Our Renewable Fuels Research and Innovation Priorities”

Bioenergy is one of several program areas supported by Alberta Innovates under the Clean Resources – Clean Technology portfolio.  Susan will provide a brief overview of Alberta Innovates and funding opportunities, profile some recent projects funded by Alberta Innovates, and share insights and ideas for understanding our bioenergy project portfolio today, and where it is taking us in the future.  The latter part of this session is intended to stimulate a brainstorming discussion.

Susan has over 27 years of Government of Alberta experience, encompassing alternative and renewable energy, oil and gas, metallic and industrial minerals, and corporate services.  From 2008 through 2015, as the Director responsible for alternative and renewable energy, she managed the $600 million bioenergy grant programs, developed and implemented Alberta’s renewable fuels standard, and led team inputs on climate change and innovation strategy.

Since leaving Government in December 2015, Susan delivered bioeconomy and cleantech consulting services for three years, with a particular interest in alternative sources of biomass feedstocks, supply chain development, rural economic development and innovative value-added products from biomass and waste.  She put her consultancy on hiatus when she joined Alberta Innovates in January 2019 to serve as Interim Director of Water Innovation, and moved into the role of Interim Clean Energy Manager – Bioenergy in April 2020 to cover off Mehr Nikoo’s one-year leave of absence.

Link to presentation (PDF format)

Novel reactors for thermochemical conversion of biomass residues to biofuel: June 25, 2020

Join Dr. Tony Bi from the Clean Energy Research Centre and University of British Columbia for this special bioenergy research presentation. Register here.


The research on bioenergy at the University of British Columbia can be dated back to 1980/1990s with the focus on biological conversion and combustion of biomass residues for bioethanol and heat/power generation. Dr. Tony Bi’s current bioenergy research at UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre has been focused on thermochemical conversion of biomass residues to gas (e.g. renewable natural gas), liquid (e.g. biojet) and solid (e.g. torrefied pellets and biochar) biofuels, and integrated assessment of bioenergy systems.

This talk will give an overview on the development of a novel pulsating fluidized bed reactor for biomass torrefaction, a dual fluidized bed reactor for steam/oxygen gasification of biomass for syngas and renewable natural gas production, and a microwave-assisted fluidized bed reactor for catalytic pyrolysis of biomass to high-quality bio-oil and biochar. The economic and environmental impacts and benefits of those bioenergy conversion pathways will also be discussed based on life cycle analysis and techno-economic analysis.


Dr. Tony Bi is the Methanex professor in the Clean Energy Research Centre and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia. He is a Fellow of Canadian Academy of Engineering and Engineering Canada. He is the Director of UBC Clean Energy Research Centre (, and manager of the Fluidization Research Centre (

His current clean energy research has been focused on development of fluidized bed reactors for biomass gasification, torrefaction, and catalytic pyrolysis, life cycle analysis and integrated assessments of bioenergy systems. He has published 400 peer-reviewed papers with an H-Index of 61. He was the recipient of a UBC Killam Senior Research Fellowship (2011), AIChE Particle Technology Forum Lectureship Award (2012), Teaching Excellence Award of UBC Chemical and Biological Engineering Department (2014) and CSChE Industrial Practice Award (2020).

You can view a PDF copy of Dr. Tony Bi’s presentation here.

Virtual Bioenergy Symposium: June 24, 2020

Building on the momentum of our first three sessions, we are pleased to present our next Virtual Bioenergy Symposium on June 24 from 12:00-1:00pm MDT. The purpose of these sessions is to:

1. Facilitate the transfer of research knowledge in the bioindustrial space

2. Create networking and collaboration opportunities

3. Keep graduate students and postdocs engaged during times of isolation

Sessions will be hosted on Zoom (links will be sent prior to the event). We look forward to “seeing” you again at our next session!

Register here.

For information on past sessions, visit our symposium archive page.



Marina Lazic
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Alberta






“Bioconversion of methane to biodegradable plastic”

Methane (CH4) is the highly potent greenhouse gas that accounts for about two-thirds of the global warming effect. However, from a biological perspective, methane represents carbon and energy source for a group of bacteria known as methanotrophs. Methanotrophs convert methane into its cellular components that drive biochemical processes during the active bacterial metabolism. In this project, the focuses of interest are metabolites called “biopolymers”, specifically polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). This biopolymer is precursor for production of biodegradable plastic (bioplastic). In addition to PHB, methanotrophs can convert methane into various bioproducts (amino acids, lipids, proteins). Considering the cost and availability of methane, an interest has intensified in the use of methanotrophs for low-cost production of bioproducts from single-carbon feedstocks. However, strain-to-strain variation in substrate range, parameters for growth optimization, and metabolic regulation is a major obstacle for the large-scale industrialization of methanotrophs.

In this study, methanotroph Methylocystis sp. Rockwell was grown with either methane or methanol as a carbon source and either ammonium or nitrate as a nitrogen source. Intracellular metabolites, generated by precision ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography/tandem accurate mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) and Flame Ionization Detection Gas Chromatography (FID-GC), were compared to determine how these different carbon and nitrogen source combinations affected the production of metabolites. The results from this study revealed how Methylocystis sp. Rockwell alters its metabolism with different carbon and nitrogen sources, with implications for the production of industrially useful metabolites.

Marina Lazic obtained her B.Ss. and two M.Sc. degrees in Molecular Biology at University of Novi Sad, Serbia. She completed her third M.Ss at University of Wyoming, U.S.A. and joined Stein/Sauvageau research group in winter 2019 as Ph.D. student pursuing degree in Microbiology and Biotechnology at Biological Sciences University of Alberta.

Marina’s previous work was mostly focused on genetic engineering and designing light-activated proteins. Currently, Marina is studying single carbon bioconversions (methane, methanol) with a focus on biodegradable plastic’s precursors (PHB, PHBV). Marina received various awards and scholarships. The most recent awards include CTL TA Award for development of teaching innovation (with Dr. Lisa Stein), 1st place award for the best 3-minute thesis, Biological Science, University of Alberta, 1st award for the best oral presentation, Dr. R.E. Peter Conference, University of Alberta, 1st place award for 3-minute-thesis, Future Energy Systems (FES) Colloquium, University of Alberta. Marina is also interested in teaching and active learning promotion in science classroom.

Link to presentation (via YouTube)



Basem Zakaria
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Alberta






“A cycling on-off power supply scheme for electrochemically enhanced anaerobic digestion”

Sustainable management of organic waste and wastewater is one of the biggest environmental challenges to be addressed in Canada. Developing advanced anaerobic biotechnologies can provide an energy-neutral or energy-positive treatment option for waste and wastewater. Notably, anaerobic digestion is the most widely adopted method for organic waste and high-strength wastewater treatment that can produce methane-rich biogas, which can be upgraded into renewable natural gas. However, the traditional anaerobic digestion process suffers from process instability and low energy recovery. Recently, another emerging anaerobic bioprocess, known as microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), has been successfully integrated with anaerobic digestion by introducing a pair of electrodes into the bioreactor. Such integrated processes are operated with a continuous supply of a small external voltage to assist the microorganisms in overcoming the thermodynamic barrier involved in the degradation of complex organics. Since the amount of energy required for the external voltage leads to additional cost, here we developed a cycling on-off power supply scheme for the operation of the integrated process of anaerobic digestion and microbial electrochemical cells for biomethane production. Our results demonstrated that the integrated process could be operated with intermittent power supply without deterioration in performance. Thus, the operational cost can be reduced by powering the digesters with surplus electric energy during off-pick and mid-pick hours.

Basem Zakaria obtained his bachelor and master’s degree in Environmental Biotechnology at Cairo University, 2016. Now, he is a 3rd-year Ph.D. graduate student in Environmental Science and the vice president of the Egyptian Student Association at the University of Alberta. He has been working for more than nine years on several research projects focused on developing and designing technologies for biological soil and wastewater treatment, recovery of valued products and biomass conversion. During his Ph.D., he combined the use of multi-disciplined sciences; molecular biology, chemistry, biotechnology, and engineering to improve the waste treatment and energy recovery through coupling the existing anaerobic digestion technology with a microbial electrochemical cell. He has made some outstanding achievements through publishing more than 16 peer-reviewed articles and books and leading several projects. During his studies, he has received several prestigious awards and scholarships; Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship, University of Alberta Doctoral Recruitment Scholarship, Dr Donald R Stanley Graduate Scholarship in Environmental (Civil) Engineering, and Australian Governmental Scholarship.

Link to presentation (via YouTube)