David Bressler

David Bressler earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Cell Biotechnology from the University of Alberta. Following his studies, Dr. Bressler held a postdoctoral position that later transitioned into a Research Manger position, which included the instruction of two senior courses per year, in Chemical and Materials Engineering (University of Alberta). Dr. Bressler is appointed with the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences where he is a Professor.


Expertise: Fermentation, Pyrolysis, Biotechnology, Biorefining, Biofuels, Platform Chemicals

Research projects:
BCN projects:
Biomass Pre-processing
Characterization of Pipelined Biomass (Collaborator)
Biological Conversions
Fermentation of prairie grains and optimization studies (PI)
Applications of nanomembrane bioreactors (PI)
Biobutanol production through novel biochemical pathways and improved tolerance (Collaborator)
Genetic Engineering of Yeast (Collaborator)
Biocatalyst Chassis Development (Collaborator)
Chemical Conversions
Conversion of Specified Risk Material to value-added protein based bioproducts (PI)
Factors Affecting Starch Hydrolysis (Collaborator)
Thermal Conversions
Pyrolysis of lipids to renewable fuels and chemicals (PI)
Dimethyl Ether from Biomass (Collaborator)

Other projects:
Production of polyols from lipid resources 
Accelerated consolidation of oil sands tailings

Research interests: 
Dr. Bressler’s general area of research is the industrial application of chemical, thermal, and biological systems for the catalytic conversion of conventional agricultural products to platform chemicals, fuels, and value-added commodities. The recognition of novel mechanisms and the optimization of catalytic biochemical pathways are of special interest.

His research program is unique in that it utilizes a multidisciplinary approach combining industrial microbiology, biotechnology, and analytical chemistry with previous experience in petrochemical conversions and upgrading in conjunction with scale-up and engineering support by the Bio-Industrial Technologies Division of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. Much of the biological work involves production, modification, purification, and design of biocatalytic systems.

Research capacity: 
Dr. Bressler’s laboratory at the University of Alberta is extremely well-equipped to support a variety of research projects under the umbrella of biorefining conversions and fermentations. The laboratory boasts extensive analytical capacity including GCs with an array of detectors and a GC-MS, HPLC with DAD and RID, Rapid Resolution LC, and a microplate reader.

A major feature of the lab is a fermentation suite comprised of twelve 5L and four 10L bench-scale bioreactors and five shaking incubators. The suite is supported by a full-time technician. The lab also houses a full molecular biology suite, a custom-built pyrolysis reactor, nanomembrane bioreactor, anaerobic chamber, and microscopes with phase contrast and digital image capture capability.

Scale-up and engineering support by the Bio-Industrial Technologies Division of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (stationed at the University of Alberta’s Agri-Food Discovery Place) also enhances the research capacity of his group.

Other activities/information: 
Dr. Bressler is the Executive Director of the Biorefining Conversions Network, an organization that was launched in 2009 out of the Faculty of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences to coordinate the development of commercializable technologies in the area of biomass conversion. As Executive Director of the BCN, Dr. Bressler is a strong advocate for taking an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to developing novel, commercializable technologies that will cultivate Alberta’s bioindustrial sector. 

Dr. Bressler’s sits as Chair of the management committee of Agri-Food Discovery Place, a bioindustrial pilot plant facility located on south campus. One example that is currently funded and underway is the pyrolytic conversion of beef tallow and crop-based oils to high-value specialty solvents and high-cetane alkane based fuels. This program has been underway since 2003 and has undergoing patent and commercialization activities. An additional major initiative is currently ongoing which is focused on developing a comprehensive ethanol and platform chemical assessment and opportunity database. The project was initiated in 2005 and utilizes various current industrial fermentation approaches and a wide variety of western Canadian based crop platforms.

Top 3 Future Interests for Collaboration:

  • Fermentation of syngas to fuels and chemicals
  • Fermentation of agricultural and forestry feedstock for biofuels and chemicals
  • Pyrolysis of lipids for fuels and chemicals

Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science
5-20 Ag/For Centre
Ph: 780.492.4986
Fax: 780.492.4265 (fax)