Building the ‘bark biorefinery’: Meet Professor Ning Yan

With 347 million hectares of forest land — about 9 per cent of the world’s total — Canada is a leader in forest products, from softwood lumber to newsprint. But many parts of the tree, such as bark, aren’t currently used for any product; they are either burned for energy or discarded.

Professor Ning Yan (ChemE) hopes to change that. She recently became a full-time professor at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering’s Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, but has been cross-appointed to the Department for several years, and has nearly 20 years of experience as a U of T professor in the Faculty of Forestry, specializing in the chemistry of wood and bark. U of T Engineering writer Tyler Irving sat down with Yan to find out more. Read their interview.