Growing Forward 2 initiative makes processing and grading fibres for industrial applications a reality
Winnipeg, Manitoba – The Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) announced today the opening of an agricultural fibre processing and prototyping centre; a 9,000 sq. ft. facility located in Saint Boniface. This centre is part of a broader program known as the Prairie Agricultural Fibre Characterization Industrial Technology initiative or FibreCITY for short. It forms an integral part of the infrastructure required to underpin the industrial adoption of agricultural fibres grown in Manitoba and Canada.
“I am so proud of the innovative work being done by the Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) right here in Winnipeg. Our Government is pleased to support FibreCITY, North America’s first agriculture fibre grading centre of excellence program,” said Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “This new, state of the art facility will enable the CIC to continue its efforts to help producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets.”
Funding of $1.4 million for FibreCITY was provided by Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD) under the Growing Forward 2 initiative (GF2), which is a five-year policy framework for Canada’s agricultural and agri-food sector invested in by the federal, provincial and territorial governments. An additional $200K was allocated for fibre processing equipment to be installed in the facility from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Growing Forward 2 AgriInnovation Program, previously announced in 2014.
“This is an exciting time for agriculture in Manitoba, where we are seeing the results of strategic investments in research, innovation and infrastructure,” said MAFRD Minister Ron Kostyshyn. “The Composites Innovation Centre and FibreCITY will be able to take the biofibre industry to the next level in our province, and the Manitoba government is proud to be a part of their successes.”
To recognize the CIC’s ground-breaking work, the JEC Group has awarded the 2015 Innovation Award in the Biocomposites category to the CIC for the FibreCITY initiative. The JEC Group is a global organization dedicated to the expansion of the composite industry by providing high-value knowledge and networking services and conducting international development.
FibreCITY is a centre of excellence for agricultural crop grading that is driving the agricultural fibre industry through research, development and applying natural fibre knowledge to real-world applications. Its goal is to make the commercialization of renewable, natural fibre composite products a reality in Manitoba, Canada and around the world. The Saint Boniface location will allow FibreCITY to take commercially grown bales of biomass, such as flax and hemp straw, from producers, separate the biomass into fibres and shive, tag the materials and condition them to be tested at FibreCITY’s laboratory located within CIC’s main facility in south-west Winnipeg. It will eventually allow for the development of prototype capabilities for separating biomass and creating natural fibre reinforcements at a pilot-scale level readying them for full-scale commercialization.
“This facility forms another piece of the puzzle in creating a global leading capability to process and test biomass for industrial applications,” said Sean McKay, President and CEO of the CIC. “With this capability we are now in a position to properly support the development of a complete supply chain ensuring economic gains in the rural economy, especially back to the producer, and placing Manitoba and Canada on the map for innovation and excellence in commercialization of agricultural fibre reinforced products.”
The CIC is a not-for-profit organization established in 2003 to support technology development and commercialization of composites materials and processes for the aerospace, ground transportation, agricultural and industrial sectors in Manitoba and Western Canada.
Natural fibre composite materials, otherwise known as biocomposites, are made by embedding strong and light strands of agricultural fibre materials, such as from flax or hemp crops, in a plastic material such as petroleum-based resin or a bioresin. When cured, the final product is strong, lightweight and renewable. The future of biocomposites is promising, as many biocomposites can possess similar characteristics as traditional composites, such as those reinforced with fibreglass and carbon fibre, and therefore could be a realistic replacement for those materials.
For information contact:
Associate Manager, Marketing
Composites Innovation Centre
Office: 204-262-3400 Ext: 226