Saint Mary's University researcher earns early stage commercialization funding.

Saint Mary’s Industry Liaison Office (ILO) collaborated with Dr. Robert Singer (Chemistry Department) earlier this year in preparing an application for an early stage commercialization fund provided by Nova Scotia’s Office for Economic Development and Innovacorp.

The teamwork paid off as Dr. Singer was awarded $22,000 to purchase new Cyclic Voltammetry (C-V) instrumentation, in addition to $5,000 toward patent protection in the United States. The C-V unveiling was delayed until this month following the completion of laboratory renovations in the Science Building.

“This new fund is very much focused on early stage discoveries developed in university laboratories,” says Gina Funicelli, industry liaison officer, who hopes to leverage more of this type of funding for Saint Mary’s University in the future.

The C-V will be used to enhance the department’s research capacity in green chemistry, an emerging field of research in Canada as well as internationally. At Saint Mary’s, a primary focus of its green chemistry research is ‘designer ionic liquids’ as ‘green solvents.’

Such liquids have the potential of chelating (removing) metals from aqueous solutions including contaminated water based waste streams. The C-V is vital to further characterizing the electrochemical properties of these green solvents to better understand their industrial applications.

“We are actively involved in an area of chemical research, ionic liquids, that is very competitive on a global scale. With the assistance of the ILO, we were successful in acquiring a critical piece of electrochemical instrumentation to enable us to more aggressively compete in our research field,” Dr. Singer reported.

Various industry sectors including the mining sector, pharmaceuticals, and chemical production are interested in the development of these compounds, given their potential benefits. Once commercialized, the new compounds could bring significant reductions in traditional industrial solvent use, reduce harmful emissions to the environment, and offer savings in production and operation costs to companies.

The C-V electrochemical studies will get underway this fall. The results will be important to advance the prototype along the commercialization path. The partnership between Dr. Singer and the ILO is firmly established and together they will seek interest with potential private sector partners that will invest in advancing this technology further at Saint Mary’s University.

Saint Mary's University is known for its community outreach projects, both in Canada and around the world. Saint Mary's, founded in 1802, is home to one of Canada's leading business schools, a Science Faculty widely known for its cutting-edge research, a comprehensive and innovative Arts Faculty and a vibrant Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

For more information, please contact:
Paul Fitzgerald
Public Affairs Officer
Saint Mary's University, Public Affairs
(902) 420.5514

Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 2, 2006