CONCORD, ON – A wood products business incubator, The Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE), will invest $1.3 million in a partnership project with U.S. auto parts manufacturer Magna Exteriors and Interiors on a project to integrate wood fiber in auto parts.

This initiative will help create jobs in the automotive, wood fiber, and packaging industries.

Wood Fiber Auto Parts Project Wins Canadian Backing Magna plans to develop high-volume process and product technology that integrates wood fibers from Northern Ontario and Canadian-sourced pulp into its automotive parts.  

Currently, Troy, MI-based Magna moulds a number of auto components using long glass filled polypropylene. In some applications wood fiber can substitute for glass fibers, lowering costs and weight, says Magna Exteriors.

After initial testing, Magna plans to increase percentages of wood fiber in the auto components. A second phase of the project will see wood fiber applications transferred to high-volume consumer and industrial products, according to CRIBE, with an emphasis on packaging. 

“The dual challenges our industry faces to reduce the cost and weight of auto parts can be addressed in part with high performance wood fiber reinforced plastics," said William Harney, R&D director for Magna Exteriors and Interiors.

CRIBE cites logistics pallets are well-suited for wood-fiber based material solutions because cost and weight advantages will reduce overall costs and utilize existing pulping capacity in Canada to supply wood fiber. 

Alberta province's Innovates-Bio Solutions has joined CRIBE in the project. Magna also plans to collaborate with Alberta Bio-materials Development Centre, Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures and the National Research Council to develop the technology .

A Canadian pulping company will be selected as a technical advisor to support the development of processed wood fibers and as a future candidate supplier. 

CRIBE was founded in 2008 by the Ontario government with a $25 million grant "to move the province to the forefront of the commercialization of the forest products industry." Based in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the CRIBE says it is working to make its region "known world-wide as producers of novel value-added products in addition to, or instead of, commodity products such as pulp, newsprint and dimensional lumber."

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