Green chemistry research at TWU benefits Fraser Valley industry

A top researcher in his field, Chad Friesen, Ph.D., came to TWU from one of the world’s largest chemical research and development corporations, where he had solved many fluorine-based problems that existed for years. His innovative work in the burgeoning field of green chemistry can be seen across several industries.

“Green chemistry involves research into chemical processes and applications that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable,” said Friesen. Some of the seeds of innovation that Friesen and TWU researchers are developing include:

  • Healthcare and National Defense: The creation of new polymers that will disinfect upon contact—used to disinfect military suits when faced with biological warfare agents on the front line. From this research can come ways to help reduce infections, one of the leading causes of death in hospitals.
  • Recycling: The ability to convert 50,000 lbs. of donated clothing into new textile fibers, mechanical parts, food sugars, or better sources of automobile fuel.
  • Equine hoof care: Working alongside a local farrier to pursue an idea for a new animal drug for horse hoof care.
  • 3D modeling: The creation of new chemical binders—which provide a measure of structural integrity to hold a compound together—for 3D printing. Used to take concepts and AutoCAD designs and create true 3D objects. This research can be applied to create joint replacement parts.

Offload Studios in Abbotsford, BC, which specialize in the creation of custom 3D output from digital models, contacted TWU when they ran into challenges. Friesen assessed the problem and found areas where he could make a contribution. Working with then TWU undergraduate students, Benson Jelier and Rose Rogawski, the team created a large batch of binders.

016-green-chemistry-photo022.jpg“I was very impressed with the enthusiasm, the interest and the professionalism of Dr. Friesen and the students involved in the project,” said Bill Henderson, President of Offload Studios. “Our experience working with TWU was outstanding.”

Jelier, now a grad student in partnership with Simon Fraser University, and Rogawski, a sessional instructor and senior research assistant at TWU, continue their work on this project and others in TWU’s chemistry labs.

“Being able to work on these business projects is great because it fulfills a need,” said Jelier. “A lot of companies cannot afford to open a research lab because it’s so expensive.”

For small businesses, partnering with world-class researchers at TWU enables them to solve problems, grow their business, and contribute to the economy in the region.

Recent funding from the Government of Canada has contributed to the expansion of TWU’s research lab space and provided new equipment for its advanced analytical lab.

As well as benefitting local industry and the TWU student and faculty community, the new equipment and lab space will advance TWU’s work with local educators. Since 2009, TWU’s Chemistry Department has been offering high schools in the Fraser Valley the opportunity to perform undergraduate level chemistry labs to increase their lab experience, free of cost.

Under the supervision of Chemistry Lab Supervisor, Sebastian Temple, M.Sc., the students perform two experiments—the Extraction of Caffeine from Tea Leaves and the Synthesis of Aspirin.

Last year, TWU welcomed students from Mountain Secondary, Walnut Grove Secondary, and the Mennonite Educational Institute. This year, White Rock Christian, Unity Christian, and St. John Brebeuf all brought students to campus to perform undergraduate chemistry labs.


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