Natural Fibres and Biodegradation Facility

National Research Council Canada, Montreal, Québec
What the facility does

Offers unique capabilities in Canada for microbial respirometry, composting, and fibre processing/bioprocess optimization.

Areas of expertise

The Natural Fibres and Biodegradation (NFBD) facility is organized to allow research activities and analytical tests relative to two main (bio) technological capabilities: (i) Eco-design of industrial bio/sourced materials, from lab-scale to pilot-scale, which includes state-of-the-art analytical instruments, and (ii) Respirometry, biodegradation assessment and bioprocess optimization. The labs are staffed by a team with expertise in applied microbiology and are used: (i) to conduct applied research activities (bio/sourced materials, biodegradation tests, etc.), (ii) to develop eco-friendly biotechnologies, and (iii) to characterize biomass samples via NRC specific protocols, but also (iv) to produce raw materials or purified fibres for client-specific needs, and (v) to do in-field demonstration to key stakeholders. The equipment is unique because it has a wide operating temperature range (from 15oC to 65oC), the volume capacity of the bioreactors ranges from 1 L to 6 L, and the quantity of reactors is equal to 34 vessels. The straw-fibre processing technology is comprised of a complete set of (bio) processing and analytical equipment. This allows for the characterization of the physical and biochemical properties of flax and hemp straw/fibre samples.

Research services
  • Estimate biodegradation rates; evaluate nutrient needs; assess product’s technical compliance
  • Measure respiration rates, aerobic biodegradability, and monitor the microbial metabolism in soil, wastewater, ground water or composting samples
  • Characterize biomass samples
  • Determine the microbial kinetic parameters as well as monitor the microbial activity of environmental samples collected from different eco-systems
  • Capability to test compounds that are energetic chemicals (explosives)
  • Characterize the physical and biochemical properties of flax and hemp straw/fibre samples
Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Chemical industries
  • Clean technology
  • Defence and security industries
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment



1L bioreactors (16)

Measures respiration rates, aerobic biodegradability, and monitors microbial metabolism.

QIC Biostream

Online monitoring of microbial degradation in up to 18x6L bioreactors.


Measures fibre length and fibre strength.


Fibre characterization. Uses static image processing analysis to measure and characterize the captured shape images and sizes of fibres in both dry and wet state.

Shirley Analyzer

Fibre characterization. Analyzes the impurity content of fibres.

Single Fibre Strength Tester

Fibre characterization.

NIR spectrometer

Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR). Biomass characterization.

Keyence digital and portable microscope

Biomass characterization.

Moisture analyzer

Biomass characterization.