Departments


Analytical Services

Since its inception, and even through the years when the institute was in significant decline, the IAST has offered commercial analytical services, particularly related to environmental contaminants, quality control for water, beverages and foods, and to a certain extent, microbial testing. The equipment base has now been significantly renewed. The goal for Analytical Services is for the institute to offer centralized, comprehensive commercial access to accredited analytical services in Guyana. Through the provision of analytical services, the IAST aims to generate additional income for R&D investment, as well as maintain a complement of state of the art equipment which can also be utilized for research and development. The analytical department is headed by Mr. Randy Fordyce, BSc. Click here to view services provided by the Analytical Department.

Indigenous Materials

The broad view of materials taken by the Institute encompasses housing, road, and fine chemicals. The indigenous materials department is focused on the development of durable, functional materials from cheap, renewable sources, waste recycled materials, waste biomass and clays. We work significantly with composites made of recycled plastics and agricultural and wood fibres, as well as with recycled rubber from used tires amalgamated with asphalt.
Housing and Road Building Materials

The majority of Guyana’s population reside on the narrow, fertile coastal plains of the country, where the alluvial marine soil is fertile and home to the major agricultural industries. Construction materials for roads, housing and infrastructural works are sourced through imports and from the country’s quarries in the hilly sand and clay regions, remote from the coast. This results in construction materials being relatively expensive.

Guyana has some 8,000 miles of farm to market access roads on the coast that are little more than compacted clay. During the periodic rainy seasons, many of these access roads become impassable. Significant expense is incurred by the Government of Guyana to constantly maintain these poor roads, which are a barrier to market access for agricultural produce, and a source of discomfort to residents in the rural coastal villages. The IAST’s Indigenous Materials Department is engaged in research and technology transfer that is targeted at the use of coastal clays for the production of road-building materials, materials for home construction, and cementitious materials (puzzolanic materials). Click for images and projects.

Extrusion and injection moulding as platform technologies have been embraced by the institute to produce a variety of products made from wood/rice/bagasse and plastic composites. These materials are all targeted currently at the home construction industry, and in particular, roofing shingles have been developed and are ready to be commercialized. Click for images and projects.

Fine Chemicals
The Institute hosts the only lab scale and pilot scale functional wet organic chemistry facility in the country. Our current focus is on the use of coconut oil as a feedstock for the production of soaps, sanitizers, lubricants, polymers, flavors, pharmaceuticals, etc. Some of the above are still under development and some are at the stage where commercial products have been synthesized. Click for images and projects.

Biofuels

Guyana currently expends approximately 40% of its Gross Domestic Product on imported fuel – gasoline, diesel and heavy fuel (Guyana Energy Agency, 2008). At the same time, the growth sectors of the Guyanese economy all depend heavily on fuel: Agriculture and Fisheries, Mining, Construction, etc. Given the inexorable rise in the prices for petroleum-derived fuel, an economic climate which is governed primarily by the ever-increasing demand for energy and commodities from the economies of China, India and Brazil, and the current insecurities in the middle east, not only is the price of petroleum-derived products expected to continue to rise, but access to such products will increasingly become problematic.
Guyana’s developing economy, already severely affected by fuel prices, is certain to continue to be adversely impacted, notwithstanding the high expectations we have of the Corentyne basin and other areas which have demonstrated promising seismic evidence of petroleum reserves. Even as we move to develop our hydroelectric capacity, we will continue to, within the foreseeable future, depend heavily in liquid fuel for transportation, mining and Agriculture and Fisheries.
At the same time, we are witnessing a Global increase in food demand, and a global decrease in available grain. Although this is due to a variety of influences (see an article by Dr. Narine on Food, Fuel and Climate Change: The Trilogy of Change), the increasing usage of arable acreage for production of feedstock for biofuels is a significant contributor to increasing prices for food worldwide. Only countries with a significant excess of arable and water resources, favourable climate, and a population density which allows development of land for biofuels production without affecting food production or the destruction of standing forests can sustainably contemplate biofuel solutions to their energy problems. Certainly, as a global solution, the production of biofuels does not offer a sole solution to the world’s dwindling reserves of petroleum.
In the case of Guyana, we have a population density of approximately 4 km2 per capita, significant undeveloped arable land and water resources, and an equatorial climate. Without affecting standing forests and without competing for arable land on the fertile alluvial coastal plain (which should continue to be utilized for Food Production), Guyana can within a period of 5 to 10 years, produce as much as 65% of its current diesel demand in the form of biodiesel, and at least as much as 70% of its current gasoline demand in the form of ethanol. The macro- and micro-economic benefits of this development are significant. As a result, the development of Agro-Energy and Biofuels is an important growth sector for the Government of Guyana, and the Ministry of Agriculture and the IAST have been identified to play leading roles in the development of this nascent sector.
The IAST  is therefore playing a pivotal role in the construction of pilot demonstration facilities for ethanol and biodiesel, developing standards and testing capabilities for controlling the quality of biofuels, promoting investment in biofuels, providing technical due diligence for proposals to develop biofuels, and spearheading the development of the Guyana Aro-Energy Board.
Our Biofuels Department is headed by Mr. Rishi Persaud (ag). A list of projects in this department can be found by clicking “projects

Bioprospecting

The wealth of Guyana’s flora and its enduring medicinal anthropology stretching back more than 7, 000 years represents an untapped source of income and sustainable development of non-timber forest resources and coastal botanicals. As a source of bioactive compounds applicable to a wide range of pharmaceutical, cosmoceutical, nutraceutical and topical actives, Guyana’s medicinal anthropology and its botanicals are relatively untapped. The IAST has begun an exciting program, collaborating with the University of Guyana, the University of Alberta, the Cross Cancer Institute, and the Ministry of Agriculture and the Guyana Forestry Commission, to record the medicinal anthropology, collate and catalogue the botanical information of the related plants, extract the bioactive compounds, and quantify their amounts and structures, and evaluate their clinical efficacy. Since this is an effort to not only tap the biological wealth of Guyana, but also its cultural wealth, significant effort is being currently put into the generation of agreements which will ensure that any intellectual property arising out of this bioprospecting effort is controlled by Guyana and accrued to the benefit of the communities from whence the original knowledge derived.
We are currently recruiting for the head of Bioprospecting department. A list of projects in this department can be found by clicking “projects

 

Food and Feeds Department
Responsible for  viable products from  locally sourced feedstock and materials – either recycled feedstock or renewable feedstock cultivated in Guyana, this Department  aims to realise Guyana’s potential as the bread basket of the Caribbean, which has been much discussed but unfortunately not yet realized. Among the many interventions that are needed, is a focus on value-added processing of agricultural commodities to facilitate vertical integration, market expansion and stability, and expansion of the earning envelope related to agriculture. The IAST has focused on the use of extrusion as a platform technology to begin to utilize more indigenous agricultural feedstock in aquaculture feed, cereals, pasta, risotto, and other value-added food items.
The Food and Feeds Department is headed by Mr. Sewpersaud Manohar, BSc. Click for a list of products and images.