Bioproducts research receives federal funding

A proposed paper mill and an existing bioproducts centre in Manitoba has received a financial boost from the federal government.

Agriculture Canada will invest $385,000 in Prairie Pulp & Paper, which intends to build a wheat and flax straw paper mill in Manitoba.

Prairie Pulp & Paper produces straw based paper at a plant in India and sells its branded product, Step Forward Paper, at Staples stores in Canada.

The company will use the funding for further research and development of its paper products. If consumers respond positively to the straw-based paper, company leaders hope the success will attract investors for its proposed mill, which will cost more than $500 million to build.

“Step Forward Paper is the first paper of its kind to hit shelves in North America and the first step toward meeting more of our paper needs from straw,” Jeff Golfman, President of Prairie Pulp & Paper Inc., said in a news release.

Besides supporting straw-based paper, Agriculture Canada also invested $860,000 in the Composites Innovation Centre  in Winnipeg.

The CIC helps develop and test materials for manufacturing, including biomaterials such as hemp, flax and wheat straw. As an example, researchers at the centre have built car components, a motorcycle gas tank and bus doors out of hemp fibres.

“The support … will enable us to begin development of a global leading capability to rapidly determine the properties of natural fibres that is essential for their adoption by industry,” CIC executive director Sean McKay said in a statement.

In one of its most innovative projects, CIC scientists are working with a Calgary company, Motive Industries, to build an electric powered vehicle made entirely from hemp and other natural fibres.

A spokesperson for Motive Industries recently told the Calgary Herald that the company continues to work on the unique vehicle, called the Kestrel. It hopes to complete the project later this year.

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