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Funding Awarded for Pulse Research

A University of Saskatchewan researcher has been awarded $2.5 million through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to improve the processes of transforming pulses into novel food ingredients, new bioplastics, and high-value biomedical materials.

As part of his work, Dr. Yongfeng Ai will explore new applications for Saskatchewan pulse starches, and streamlining the conversion processes from newly harvested pulses, including peas, faba beans, lentils and chickpeas, to high-value food, bioplastic and biomedical products.

Pulse starches display a wide variety of traits that make them unique from other botanical sources. They can develop into biogels of various physical forms, tolerate high-temperature processing, and are a good source of resistant starch ‒ a new type of dietary fibre and prebiotic. The strong gelling and film-forming ability of pulse starches can make them useful in bioplastics and biomedical materials, such as packaging materials, fabric fibres, hemostasis materials, and wound dressing.

More importantly, the derived bioproducts are highly biodegradable and compostable, which can make them a sustainable option for producing easily disposable products in the future.

Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture Dave Marit said the research will bring the province closer to a number of the goals outlined in Saskatchewan’s Plan for Growth. These include targets to process 50% of Saskatchewan pulse crops in the province and increase value-added agriculture revenue to $10 billion.

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