Professors Levente Diosady and Emma Master receive 2021 Connaught Innovation Awards

Professor Levente Diosady (ChemE) and Professor Emma Master (ChemE) are among seven U of T Engineering recipients of the 2021 Connaught Innovation Awards. This award recognizes and supports innovations that have strong socio-economic or commercial potential. A total of 10 research teams from across U of T sharing up to $500,000 in funding in this year’s cohort.

Professor Emma Master

Excerpt from U of T News

Professor Emma Master of the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering has received a Connaught Innovation Award to support her team’s work on plant-based, renewable alternatives to petrochemical compounds.

Grounded by what Master describes as “a deep appreciation of the carbon, energy, and function embodied by Canada’s boreal forest,” her team uses biocatalysts to upgrade major plant fibre components for use in renewable materials – instead of simply breaking them down into fermentable sugars.

“Our enzyme technology presents a more resource-efficient approach that maximizes the value of naturally occurring chemical structures present in the starting material,” Master says. “At the same time, our enzyme technology is designed to upgrade underused residues of major agricultural and forest practices, underscoring the potential impact of the technology on increasing resource efficiency.”

The associate director of BioZone, a centre of applied bioscience and bioengineering, Master is also co-leader of Genome Canada’s SYNBIOMICS project that uses enzymes to upgrade biopolymers from trees, creating higher-value materials and heads the NSERC CREATE training program in open science for industrial biotechnology in the circular economy.

Awarded a Finland Distinguished Professor Fellowship in 2010, Master also received a European Research Council Consolidator grant in 2015. Last year, she was awarded a Future and Emerging Technologies Open grant to integrate bioscience, computational sciences and materials sciences for the advancement of biotechnologies in circular bio-based economies.

Professor Levente Diosady

Excerpt from U of T News

Professor Emeritus Levente Diosady of the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering has received a Connaught Innovation Award for his work on fortifying tea and tea beverages with iron.

A world-renowned food engineer, Diosady has spent much of his career developing techniques for fortifying staple foods with micronutrients to improve human health.

“We have developed technology that allows inclusion of iron in the presence of a competing chelating agent, which does not affect the taste and colour of tea prepared by steeping tea leaves or granules in boiling water,” Diosady says. “To enable large-scale introduction of this invention, we need to further develop technology for inclusion of the encapsulated micronutrient in the most widely consumed forms of tea: tea granules and tea powder, in addition to the more expensive tea leaves.”

Diosady’s team will agglomerate the iron microcapsules with a modified starch or sugar.

“Since tea in India is consumed sweetened with sugar, the addition of very small amounts of sugar will not degrade the taste of the iron fortified tea,” Diosady says. “Successful development of the technology will allow us to conclude a joint development program with Hindustan Unilever to market iron fortified tea.”

The goal is to improve iron levels in women especially in South Asia, reducing the incidence of maternal and infant mortality, Diosady says.

Read more in U of T Engineering News and U of T News