Pulp is not just for paper anymore. Magna plans to develop high-volume process and product technology that integrates wood fibres from Northern Ontario and Canadian-sourced pulp into its automotive parts. Currently, Magna moulds a number of components and sub-systems using long glass filled polypropylene (LGFPP) for global automotive manufacturers.
In certain applications glass fibre can be substituted with wood fibre while providing the required mechanical and physical properties and offering a lower cost and lighter weight option. Once initial testing is complete, the goal will be to increase percentages of wood fibre for further optimized performance. In a second phase of this project, the knowledge gained from using wood fibre in automotive parts will be transferred to high-volume consumer and industrial products. The packaging industry is very sensitive to material pricing and requires very large volumes of material to be processed annually. As an example, logistics pallets are well-suited for wood-fibre based material solutions because cost and weight advantages will reduce overall costs and utilize existing pulping capacity in Canada to supply wood fibre.CRIBE is investing $1.3 million in this technology because it supports two key Ontario industries: forestry and automotive manufacturing. The government of Alberta, through Alberta Innovates-Bio Solutions, has joined CRIBE in supporting this important project. Magna also plans to collaborate with Alberta Bio-materials Development Centre (ABDC), Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures and the National Research Council (NRC) to develop the technology .
A Canadian pulping company will be selected as a technical advisor to support the development of processed wood fibres and as a future candidate supplier. For lab-scale material development, Magna Exteriors and Interiors will work together with pulping companies to develop wood fibres that can be commercially available on a large scale.
"Today's announcement has the three elements of a quintessential Ontario story: leading-edge auto innovation, inspired use of our natural resources, and a green solution that helps both our environment and economy," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Innovation. "Innovative projects like this one help spur growth and create jobs."
"Magna is proud to have been chosen as development partner for this important project to introduce low-cost sustainable materials into products for our customers," said William Harney, Executive Director, Research and Development for Magna Exteriors and Interiors. "The dual challenges our industry faces to reduce the cost and weight of auto parts can be addressed in part with high performance wood fibre reinforced plastics. This in turn will provide improved fuel economy for consumers in a cost-effective, sustainable solution."
"Ontario's forestry industry has been hit very hard over the past few years due to a number of factors including the economy, declining demand for paper products and the high Canadian dollar," said Lorne Morrow CEO of CRIBE. "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."
Magna Exteriors and Interiors Corp., an operating unit of Magna International Inc., is a full-service global supplier of automotive exterior and interior systems. We design, engineer and manufacture front- and rear-end fascia systems; sealing systems; exterior trim; class A composite panels; top systems; engineered glass; under hood and underbody components; structural components; sidewall and trim systems; cockpit systems; cargo management systems; and overhead systems for automotive, commercial truck, consumer, and industrial markets. We also manufacture sheet molding compound (SMC) material, EpicBlendSMC, in multiple formulations.