In a May 7 announcement, CRIBE is investing $1.3 million as a development partner with Magna Exteriors and Interior Corp., a division of the auto parts giant, to develop a high-volume process and product technology that uses Northern Ontario-source wood fibre and Canadian-sourced pulp.
William Harney, executive director of Magna Exteriors and Interiors, said wood fibre reinforced plastics can help the industry reduce the cost and the weight of auto parts. “This in turn will provide improved fuel economy for consumers in a cost-effective, sustainable solution.”
In some applications, wood fibre can replace glass fibre to make a product that achieves the required mechanical and physical properties, but makes it cheaper to produce and more lightweight.
The release said once initial testing is complete, the goal will be to increase the percentages of wood fibre for further optimized performance.
The knowledge gained from this process will be used for “high-volume consumer and industrial products in the packaging industry.”
A Canadian pulping company will be selected as a technical advisor to support the development of processed wood fibres.
In its lab development, Magna plans to work with pulping companies to develop wood fibres that can be commercially available on a large scale.
CRIBE CEO Lorne Morrow said this gives a much-needed boost to the forestry industry which has been hammered in recent years by a declining demand for paper products and a high Canadian dollar.
“Opportunities like this are exciting because they have the potential to provide a new industry which will create new demand and a new revenue stream for Ontario's pulp mills.”
CRIBE and Magna are being joined in this endeavor by the Alberta government and its various innovation agencies to develop the technology.