The Curtis research group (Lipid Chemistry Group, LCG) specialises in two interrelated areas:
(1) The conversion of lipids into oleochemicals and biobased materials:
With a strong focus on the fats and oils that are abundantly produced on the Canadian prairies, we have developed chemical routes to convert natural oils into oleochemicals. Recently, we made polyols from canola oil and which can be used in many types of polyurethane materials. For example, we have developed polyurethane foam products with a high biobased content. We have also developed polyols from other oils such as camelina which can be used like castor oil in many applications. We are actively investigating the use of epoxy resins based on flax, hemp and other oils in biobased materials for industrial applications.
(2) The analysis of lipids of importance in food, agriculture, human health, medical sciences, oleochemicals and in industrial applications:
The general theme is the development of novel analytical methods to solve emerging problems in these broad areas, often via multidisciplinary collaborations. We are particularly interested in developing methods that improve structural specificity and accuracy in the quantification of lipids, which usually occur as complex mixtures. Typically, analytical solutions are required that are multi-dimensional in order to provide enough specificity for the task. Gas and Liquid chromatography combined with mass spectrometry and MS/MS are core methods but the research program will focus on complementing these with newly emerging analytical techniques such as multi-dimensional chromatography and on-line ozonolysis mass spectrometry (O3-MS).