Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) has been advancing the use of natural agricultural materials such as flax and hemp to make composites as a cheaper, more sustainable material to replace fibreglass.
The CIC is about to build the first-ever grading system for bio-fibres – agricultural products that can be used to replace fibreglass in building lightweight, super-strong parts for all sorts of applications.
The CIC has received a $1.9-million infusion of capital from the federal government to set up the world’s first bio-fibre grading centre.
The money from Western Economic Diversification will be utilized by the CIC to buy equipment in order to establish the Prairie Agriculture Fibre Characterization Industrial Technology Capability (FibreCITY) centre, Canada’s first agricultural fibre grading centre.
The facility will be used to evaluate and grade the capabilities of agricultural fibres to help Canadian manufacturers get a head-start on advancing the commercialization of biofibre products.
The properties of bio-fibre will change from variety to variety, species to species and year to year based on weather, how much rain those crops had, how much sunlight and all sorts of other factors.
“This is going to take the black art out of bio-composites development,” said Simon Potter, sector manager for product innovation at the CIC. “It has always been an empirical process where we try a bit of this and a bit of that and see if it works or not. That’s the wrong thinking. We have to step back and understand the fundamentals of what we are working with, then we can design things rationally.”
The Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) is a non-profit organization established in 2003 to stimulate economic growth through industry-driven applied research and development of industrial applications for advanced biocomposite materials.