Green innovation and environmental responsibility underscore three research projects that have received funding from the Ontario government through the Ontario Research Fund (ORF) and Early Research Awards (ERA) program. 

The funding is part of the $278 million the provincial government has invested in research projects at universities, colleges, research institutes and research hospitals across the province. 

 “This substantial investment from the provincial government enables University of Guelph research teams to conduct pioneering research that reuses, reduces and reckons with waste,” said Dr. Rene Van Acker, interim vice-president (research). “With their potential for product development and policy, these innovative projects will have lasting economic and ecological benefit for Ontario, Canada and beyond.” 

Ontario Research Fund 

ORF, through the Research Excellence program, supports researchers to make discoveries that help advance the development of innovative new products and technologies. 

Dr. Amar Mohanty 

Dr. Amar Mohanty poses for a portrait
Dr. Amar Mohanty

Dr. Mohanty, director of the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre, Distinguished Research Excellence Chair in Sustainable Materials and a professor cross-appointed to the Department of Plant Agriculture within the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and the School of Engineering in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS), has received $2 million to develop advanced flameproof and lighter sustainable materials, using waste streams from automotive industry and lignin from pulp processing.  

These sustainable biocomposite materials are being engineered to replace battery pack casings and other components in electric vehicles (EV), resulting in lighter, safer and more environmentally sustainable EVs.  

The research team includes Drs. Manjusri Misra, Stefano Gregori and Abdallah Elsayed, both in U of G’s School of Engineering, as well as researchers from McMaster University, University of Toronto and Western University. They will also collaborate with Canadian and international institutions and industrial partners from across the automotive, manufacturing and recycling industries. 

Dr. Manjusri Misra 

A headshot of Dr. Manjusri Misra in a lab
Dr. Manjusri Misra

Dr. Misra, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Biocomposites and a professor cross-appointed to the School of Engineering and the Department of Plant Agriculture, has received $1 million to develop and commercialize home-compostable K-cup coffee capsules, a product not currently available in North America.  

Coffee capsules consist of both a cup and a sealing film. Misra and her research team have developed and successfully lab-tested biodegradable materials for both components, which can be composted at home and in industrial composting facilities. This funding will enable them to prepare their capsule for commercial production.  

Their innovative materials will provide a cost-competitive option that extends the shelf life of single-use coffee capsules and reduces the waste produced by their use.  

The research team includes Dr. Mohanty and Dr. Brandon Gilroyed, School of Environmental Sciences within OAC, researchers from McMaster University and collaborators from industry, government and not-for-profit sectors. 

Early Research Awards 

Dr. Ryan Prosser 

Prof. Ryan Prosser
Dr. Ryan Prosser

Dr. Prosser, a professor in the School of Environmental Sciences within the OAC, has received $140,000 from the ERA program, which helps early-career researchers build their research teams.  

Prosser and his research group study the fate and effect of chemicals and other stressors in the environment.  

With this funding, they will assess the prevalence and impact of microplastics on freshwater ecosystems. The data they collect will contribute to the management and conservation of Ontario’s freshwater environments. 

The ERA covers salaries and travel for student research assistants, equipment costs and facility expenses. The award will be matched by $50,000 from the University.