Stemergy: Renewable Fibre Technology

Growing Innovative Vehicles

15 October 2008

The Ontario BioCar Initiative is a $6 million joint venture of researchers at the Universities of Guelph, Toronto, Windsor and Waterloo.

In spite of the loss of thousands of jobs and some plant closures, the province of Ontario remains North America's largest automotive assembly region. And in spite of the “Big Three” automakers' slow uptake in the fuel-efficient and alternative fuel sectors, there is innovation happening in the industry, which will lead to new green collar jobs to replace the layoffs. Much of that is being driven by the University of Waterloo, Canada's largest engineering school, which is helping parts companies research new and innovative parts and manufacturing processes.

One of those projects involves the agribusiness community, focusing on replacing petroleum-based automotive parts with bio-chemicals and high content bio-fiber materials. The Ontario BioCar Initiative is a $6 million joint venture of researchers at the Universities of Guelph, Toronto, Windsor and Waterloo.

Dr. Leonardo Simon, a Chemical Engineering Professor at Waterloo and key researcher in the BioCar project, says, “The outcomes of our research will have a significantly positive effect on the profitability of farming and forestry industries, and will create a sustainable, competitive edge in the Ontario automo- tive value chain.” Some of his work includes the use of wheat-straw, hemp and flax to create bio-based products that can be readily incorporated into the current automotive plastics industry.

Dr. Simon suggests that all agribusiness organizations have the potential to benefit from the type of innovation being fostered through BioCar. “We need plants that contain the right properties and farmers to grow them. Equipment needs to be designed to properly harvest the parts of the plant required and grain companies to create markets for them. We also need mills capable of processing this material into a consistent form that can be delivered efficiently to manufacturing facilities.”

Ontario hemp pioneer Geof Kime is a private sector advisor to the project. His company Stemergy Renewable Fibre Technologies was founded in 1994, when it became the first company to grow industrial hemp in Canada since the 1940s. It has maintained its status as a leader in the renewable bio-fiber sector and operates a large R&D facility. It is currently gathering funds, including $3.3 million worth of government money, to scale up its “BioFibeRefinery” technology.

Says Kime, “We are in a new environmental and economic paradigm, and renewable materials will continue to replace non-renewable resources in wide ranging applications. We source locally grown plant stems, that are fractionated and refined using our technology, and the resulting bio-fibers are supplied to large global markets, which include replacing plastics and fiber glass for making composites.”

The bio-products industry is expected to exceed $125 billion in revenues globally by 2010.

Source: Natural Life Magazine

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About Stemergy

Stemergy bio-fiber is focused on producing and supplying renewable bio-fibres - derived from annual stem fiber plants such as flax and hemp - to the expanding global bio-fiber marketplace.