Ontario government invests in automotive biomaterials
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Ontario Premier and Minister of Research and Innovation Dalton McGuinty announced a provincial investment of $5.9 m...
Ontario Premier and Minister of Research and Innovation Dalton McGuinty announced a provincial investment of $5.9 million into an innovative bio-based automotive manufacturing project yesterday.
The funding will be directed to the Ontario BioCar Initiative, a project helmed by University of Toronto chemical engineering professor Mohini Sain. The project hopes to use a combination of bioplastics and biocomposites to reduce the automotive industry’s reliance on petroleum-based parts and improve environmental sustainability.
“We integrate three different declining industries, the forest sector, agricultural sector and automotive sector,” said Sain, who will lead the project out of the University of Guelph. The project will involve 24 experts from the universities of Guelph, Toronto, Waterloo and Windsor.
The goal of the project is to convert bio-based feedstocks — corn, wheat, soybeans and wood fiber — into usable automotive applications.
“By investing in innovative technologies, we can turn homegrown ideas into homegrown jobs,” said Premier McGuinty. “These initiatives will help make Ontario a world leader in bio-based automotive manufacturing and help us protect our environment for generations to come.”
Sain noted that automotive plastics are a major consideration for the project, and hopes to work closely with the plastics sector.
“[Plastic processors] know that eventually this type of material can be a feedstock for their plastic manufacturing projects as well,” said Sain.
As part of the four-year initial plan, the initiative hopes to spin out a semi-structural and structural prototype. In the long term, the group projects that there will be 100 kilograms of biomaterials in cars by 2015.
“The key to success is how fast and how economically we can make these materials match the performance of the existing plastics, composites and metals,” said Sain.
The provincial government also announced $255,000 of funding for the Ontario BioAuto Council, a coalition that was formed in July 2006. The council’s goal is to boost Ontario’s global position in the growing market for bio-based automotive parts.
“We will ensure Ontario is positioned to capture a substantial share of what is projected to be a $50-million global market for bioplastics by the year 2015,” said Ontario BioAuto Council executive director Terry Daynard.