News at the University of New Brunswick

NSERC grants researchers funding for major project

Author: Communications

Posted on Feb 14, 2012

Category: UNB Fredericton

A University of New Brunswick chemical engineering professor will receive $598,260 for his innovative research in the field of biorefining of wood and agriculture biomass.

Principal investigator Dr. Kecheng Li, professor and director of graduate studies in UNB’s department of chemical engineering, was chosen by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NERC) under its Strategic Project Grants program. He submitted the application with Prof. Emma Master from the University of Toronto and Prof. Aicheng Chen from the University of Lakehead. 

The grant program is designed to fund projects that could strongly influence Canada’s economy, society or environment in the next 10 years.

“The research we are doing allows us to develop technologies and processes for the pretreatment of biomass substrates that can later be used for fuels and biochemical production,” said Dr. Li. “Second-generation liquid biofuels made from lignocellulose biomass, including agricultural residues,forestry waste, grasses and trees can be a sustainable alternative to fossil oil.” 

“The pretreatment for biomass is a complex and costly process. Dr. Kecheng Li’s work in the chemical engineering department moves our country another step closer to being able to efficiently and effectively use biomass as a renewable energy source,” said Dr. Greg Kealey, UNB Provost and Vice-President (research). “The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada contributes to the continued success of researchers like Dr. Li.  At the University of New Brunswick, we appreciate that they continue to support and recognize the important of work of our experts.”

Projects funded through NSERC’s Strategic Project Grant program, must be proven to be scientifically sound and technically feasible, and promise to generate new knowledge or apply existing knowledge in an innovative manner. 

Dr. Li’s project has also received funding from Irving Paper Inc., and Resolute Forest Products.

For more information on NSERC and the Strategic Project Grant, visit: 

For media inquiries, contact:

Jennifer Gavin
UNB Communications & Marketing

About Dr. Kecheng Li

Dr. Kecheng Li is a professor and director of graduate studies in UNB’s department of chemical engineering.

He earned a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto in 2003, and a master’s degree in chemical engineering andbachelor’s degree from the Northwest Institute of Light Industry in China. 

His research interests include: biorefining of lignocellulose biomass; advanced surface and nanoscale characterization techniques; and biomechanical processing of wood for energy savings in the pulp and paper industry.

Dr. Li is a member of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering, Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, and the Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada. 


The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is a federal agency that helps make Canada a country of discoveries and innovators for all Canadians.

The agency supports some 30,000 post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 12,000 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging about 2,000 Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects.