Thank you, honourable Chair, vice-chairs, and committee members for the opportunity to speak to you today on the very important topic of industrial bioeconomy in Canada, and the opportunity it provides for Canada.
BIC is a not-for-profit business accelerator based in Sarnia, Ontario. Our vision is to create jobs and economic values sustainably in Canada. We accomplish this by providing critical investment advice and services to early-stage business developers in the clean, green, and sustainable chemistry space. Our expertise is commercialization.
Our management team has over 100 years of industrial experience in a wide variety of technical development, commercialization, and business operations from the traditional petrochemical industry. I personally came from the petrochemical industry, and retired out of that about five years ago.
Our board brings a strong governance and executive mandate to the vision. The board members play an active role supporting BIC's strategic plan by leveraging their knowledge and experience of strength and due diligence processes and the potential investments. In addition, board members use their experience and extensive network of professional contacts to provide advice, communicate successes, and identify resources to enable start-ups and SMEs in the early stages working toward commercialization.
We're focused on enabling Canada to become a globally recognized leader in converting renewable resources, such as agricultural and forestry bioproducts and residues into value-added bioenergy, biofuels, biochemicals, and biomaterials for the use in a wide range of commercial applications along the chemistry value chain to advance manufacturing, including automotive and aerospace.
Our initial efforts have been targeted in Sarnia-Lambton, home of Canada's first petrochemical cluster. Sarnia-Lambton is well positioned to diversify its petrochemical industrial base, and become North America's leader in industrial bioproducts manufacturing in an emerging hybrid chemistry cluster.
BIC has played a critical role in attracting anchor industry biochemical companies to the region, which form key assets in the assets along the chemistry value chain. Securing the location of these anchor companies in Canada is attracting significant follow-on investment in the region.
Canada has a global competitive advantage. Canada has the most abundant, sustainable and economically important biomass resources, and is highly adept at generating value from them. Our traditional bioeconomy sectors, forestry and agriculture, currently comprise over 900 processing companies, support two million employees, and generate sales of over $300 billion per year.
Canada's commitment to climate change mitigation is best addressed by extending the capacities of these sectors to produce biogenic carbon into biobase alternatives that offset fossil carbon emissions. By leveraging Canada's natural carbon storage capacity in its forests, along with residues from forestry, agriculture, and municipal waste, over 120 million tonnes of biomass are available annually to create additional economic growth, and directly offset carbon emissions.
Biomass supply chains exist within the traditional forestry industry including the lumber and pulp and paper industries. Biomass supply chains are emerging for industrial or agricultural residues. These biomass supply chains are available to support the first transformations to sugars, lignins, and thermochemical intermediates. Companies such as Comet Biorefining Inc., West Fraser, and Resolute are actively commercializing these types of technologies.
Canada's forestry industry maintains significant assets for the production of traditional products, such as lumber and pulp and paper. Maintaining and repositioning these existing assets as biorefineries can enable the transformation of this industry. Forestry companies such as CelluForce, Kruger, Domtar, Resolute, and Performance BioFilaments have established world-leading IP positions in the production and application of advanced hygiene products, biocomposites, cellulose nanocrystals, and filaments.
Ontario's chemical industry is the largest in Canada driven by economic advantages provided by the petrochemical cluster ecosystem and the global green chemical market. A number of bioproduct companies are leveraging these biomass supplies—oils, grains, and residues—to produce low-carbon biofuels, biochemicals, and biomaterials to create high value-added manufacturing products.
Companies such as BioAmber, Origin Materials, and Woodbridge are working with the automotive industry to provide lightweight biocomposite and natural fibre materials, low-volatile materials for healthier interiors in automobiles, and components containing sustainable and renewable materials. Additionally, the natural alliance of Origin Materials, Nestlé Waters, and Danone are commercializing bioplastics for use in water bottles and food packaging applications. Renewable fuel producers are focused on developing the lower carbon intensity biofuels for the Canadian market.
Leveraging Canada's abundant natural resources and linking innovative Canadian-based bioproducts and forestry companies to the existing chemical industry and value chains provides a competitive advantage that must be exploited for the benefit of Canadians.
I'll talk a bit about the opportunity. The chemistry industry is on the cusp of a transformation. Traditional petroleum-derived chemicals and products will increasingly be substituted and blended with more sustainable resources derived from biomass. The potential market size is staggering, as bio-based products are expected to make up 50% of consumer products by 2050. Countries and companies with the right policy framework, the desire to foster innovation, and the ability to deploy technologies are poised to take market share in these areas and experience explosive growth.
The focus on value chain creation, expansion and growth, and building regional clusters creates jobs and transforms existing sectors. Advancing the bioeconomy through value chain enhancements with the focus on decarbonizing will enable Canada to be a global leader in sustainable bio-based products.
With the growing international demand for sustainable low-carbon goods and services, and the vast biomass resources available across Canada, the economic potential is enormous. Multiple industries such as health, agriculture, forestry, and natural resources, as well as rural and urban communities, stand to benefit from the bioeconomy. The net result is the creation of new businesses, revitalization of old businesses, regional diversification, and most important, jobs.
For a sector with such high growth potential and access to vast resources, our bioeconomy is lagging. In 2018, the sector was valued at 6% of GDP, on a per-capita basis, whereas in the U.S. it's over 8%. Furthermore, Sweden is considered to be a leader in the bioeconomy, with 30% of its natural energy supply fed from biomass, compared to 1% in Canada.
Canada's slow emergence in the bioeconomy is explained by the lack of a clear strategic direction and the fragmentation of programs, which does not support all types of bioproducts and policy initiatives, as outlined in the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers' discussion paper, “A Forest Bioeconomy Framework for Canada”.
This framework is a very excellent piece of work. It includes tax measures that de-risk commercialization as one of the six key policy areas that should be addressed. There are a number of others, such as efficient standards, collaborative research and development, public sector procurement, outreach to attract investment, accessible comprehensive investment-grade data, and workforce and training development.
The key way to succeed in the bioeconomy is to address these policy areas in an integrated and coordinated effort, involving government, industry, investors, and academia. For example, at the national level, the forestry industry is seen as the key bio-based resource, and Natural Resources Canada is leading support for the industry.
Activities occurring in silos must be avoided. A comprehensive approach is required. Canada needs the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development coordinating the development of an all-encompassing framework of public policies in partnerships with the provinces, territories, and relevant federal ministries. This includes Natural Resources Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Environment Canada. Input from private stakeholders is also essential for this framework.
Canada can leverage its strength in advanced manufacturing and resource development to lead the way on a national bioeconomy strategy. A comprehensive bioeconomy framework will create new business, high-quality and long-term jobs, and stable growth, while reducing carbon emissions.
Thank you, honourable Chair, vice-chairs, and members. I am excited to present here today. You'll notice I don't have any briefing notes. The story I have today is a success story in Canada about innovation in the traditional forest industry. It directly falls within your mandate of how to tie in the traditional forest industry to innovation, new products, new markets, and new demands. Today it's a case study of a company called Ensyn that represents itself as a new engineered wood products business in a traditional industry.
For example, it's just 45 minutes up the road, and there's an open invitation to the committee—I don't know if you guys do field trips, or the individual members do field trips—and I'd be happy to host you, 45 minutes away, at our facility at some later point in time.
What we do there is we receive approximately 50,000 tonnes of sawmill residue annually at that facility. There are about 1,000 trucks, so it's not a huge facility. Instead of using these residuals to make MDF boards, mouldings, or even pellets and other engineered wood products, we make liquid wood. Of anything today, think of me as the liquid wood guy. We produce about 13 million litres of liquid wood every year. That's roughly 500 tanker trucks going down the highway and delivering to customers.
I should note that we're synergistic to the existing forestry industry. We don't offer a competitive environment to fibre. We are synergistic with the mills where they are challenged by the transition in the forest industry with respect to what we are doing with all our residues. We have to make sure we have a home. There's an ecosystem for a local mill, and if that ecosystem is interrupted with respect to supply in different areas, it challenges the survival of the mill as a whole. We offer a solution by taking those residuals and working into the synergy—again, we have application throughout Canada—of these mills.
We've run this technology for over 30 years. It's a Canadian technology out of western Ontario. Our founders are Canadian. We're proudly Canadian. In effect, the technology is relatively simple. We take wood, and we expose it to heat in the absence of oxygen. Of course if you have oxygen, you have combustion. In the absence of oxygen, it vapourizes the organic chemicals. We take the vapour and condense it into a liquid barrel of wood. By yield, we achieve 70% by weight of the original wood to the liquid wood product.
Now you might quickly determine that the liquid wood represents a carbon-neutral renewable fuel. We don't have to talk about the importance of carbon neutrality and carbon reduction here, recognizing its value to the Canadian people and to the sustainable future of Canada, but it has the benefits of liquid fossil fuel. You can imagine a liquid wood, comparing it to a liquid fossil fuel. You can store it in a tank, you can pump it in a pump, you can burn it in traditional types of burners.
For example, the production of the liquid wood we produce here just 45 minutes up the Ottawa valley from Ottawa Valley Wood is delivered to hospitals, schools, and city and district energy centres. All renewable customers for the liquid wood energy product, however, are U.S. customers. The U.S. renewable fuel standard creates an economic environment where liquid wood can economically compete with fossil fuels in that environment.
The use of liquid wood by these customers is credited to the U.S., however. It's produced in Canada. The carbon reduction credits, however, go to the jurisdiction where it's consumed. Despite being produced in Ottawa and being produced in Canada, the credit for the carbon reduction aspects of the use of that fuel goes to where the customer is located. It all goes to the United States for it to meet its renewable energy and carbon reduction commitments.
Now you might say, David, you've got 13 million litres. We're oversold. I can't produce enough product to meet customer demand out of our facility in Renfrew. I'm pleased to say that, together with the support of NRCan's SDTC, we are just completing construction of a $100-million facility in Port-Cartier, Quebec, which is just outside of Sept-Îles. That facility will generate approximately 42 million litres of additional product, bringing our total Canadian production capacity to roughly 55 million litres a year.
Again, that's a significant impact for a carbon-neutral fuel. Again, we're integrated into a forestry company in that region called Arbec; also Groupe Rémabec, just out of the Lac Saint-Jean region, is part of that ownership structure. We integrate with the mills synergistically into that marketplace, recognizing again that the mills are threatened by the inability to get rid of residual fibre.
Unfortunately I also have to say that 100% of that production is destined for the United States. The markets and the renewable fuel standard in the U.S. creates a global economic environment for the competition of renewable fuels so that in effect it's just as if you made a two-by-four you'd sell it to the highest market. Our liquid wood product is no different. We make sure we get the maximum value, maximum return, for that gallon. Right now it's in the United States.
We are very thankful for the capital support we've had from the Canadian government, and the Province of Ontario, as well as the Province of Quebec in building those capital facilities and facilitating that to happen. The challenge we have now is how do we take that capital and allow that product that's developed by that capital to be used in Canada?
I'm happy to announce that our first installation of a boiler for district heating will happen on Heron Road in a federal government complex. It's a demonstration facility at this point, but we hope it's a start of many things to come, whereby our liquid fuel from our Renfrew facility, our Ottawa valley facility, will stop in Ottawa where some of the product can be used, instead of driving through Ottawa, and hopefully lend a mandate to the federal government to expand on these things. We provide for rural economic deployment of our resources and our facilities. We have a tremendous socio-economic impact as well as our carbon reduction impact in this area.
Again we're very thankful for this committee. I don't need to tell you the state of the forest industry, that innovation is required, and again as a case study it's happening. I hold an open invitation to be able to share more about what we do, how we do it, our customer base, our solutions, and our partnerships.
I thank you for your support, and I continue to look at opportunities by which our product can be used in Canada.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, committee members.
Craig and I are here today representing Whitesand First Nation. We're here to tell a story of one community's vision of the bioeconomy. Craig and I are the community leads on this project since 2009. It's been a very challenging journey that we've travelled to get this project to where it is today.
Before I begin, I should note that in 1992, Whitesand and the hamlet of Armstrong proposed a new way of forestry that included a bio-cogeneration plant to help displace diesel use in our community. That never went forward, and that's a million litres of diesel fuel a year, just for electricity. We've kept this vision alive, and we thought the best way to talk about it was to provide a presentation. I don't know if we'll get to all the slides, because we could talk about this for days.
We'll begin with the presentation. If a picture says a thousand words, our cover slide says ten thousand, and we really believe the approach we put together meets the need for energy independence, environmental integrity, and economic development all through the bioeconomy.
We came together in 2009, Craig and I, and developed the community sustainability initiative. It's five pillars of sustainability, it recognizes all the issues we face as a community, and it recognizes how we can look at a new future by developing a different approach through the bioeconomy.
Today we're just going to talk a bit about where we began, where we are, where we are heading as a community, and how Natural Resources Canada has played a significant role in getting us to where we are today.
Whitesand is 250 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. We're not on the electricity grid, and we will never be connected to the grid. We were identified in the long-term energy plan as never being connected. Of course, we also don't have natural gas, so we're a fully diesel-dependent community for both electricity and home heating. We have a population of about 1,200, with 400 currently on reserve.
I'll be quite blunt about this current reality we're in. We're on diesel fuel, we're in the middle of the boreal forest, we're nearing max power for housing, and we can't do anything for economic development because there isn't enough power. Past industry use was to take the trees and take them to Thunder Bay for processing. That process failed; the industry collapsed. It was horrible for a lot of people, but it opened the wood supply for us through a competitive wood competition. That really was the window that moved us forward.
We also have a very high unemployment rate—70% to 80%—so we're always in recession. Social assistance is the bulk of family income.
Many are without grade 12. They leave public school in Armstrong and go to Thunder Bay; many drop out, which just continues the cycle, including drug dependencies. We don't shy away from that. It's something we have to deal with, and this project has been designed to help do that.
What is our project? It's everything. It's a five-megawatt combined heat and power plant from biomass, which will replace diesel electricity. It's a 60,000- to 90,000-tonne wood pellet plant, so we can convert our homes to wood pellets from diesel and ship pellets elsewhere throughout Canada. It will support other industry as we get full stand utilization—as we're using hardwoods, primarily—and it will reduce GHG emissions.
Currently, through partnership funding from Canada, Ontario, and Whitesand, we have prepared the site for construction. We've done all our road layouts, we've got the pads ready for concrete, lighting is in, and all the roadwork is in. Our plan is to go to full construction next year. This project cost us $4 million in total, but again it was a partnership approach, and Whitesand has put in a lot of money through the years in the project.
We've had to do many complex things. We had to get the Ontario renewable energy approval. For a five-megawatt biomass plant? We're not burning tires, but it cost us almost a million dollars to do. We had the environment minister come to us and apologize that he was talking about the green, low-carbon economy and making us do a REA.
We didn't fight it. We figured out a way to do it, and we've done it. It's the first of its kind in Ontario. All of our engineering is completed, and we have the first-of-its-kind power purchase agreement in Ontario, which is a 20-year renewable revenue stream for the electricity we're producing. It actually gave us an economic development adder, which recognized the social, economic, and environmental benefits of our project. It's a unique way of looking at the bioeconomy and, if you're going to produce power, how provincial governments can support that type of initiative.
We've completed negotiations. Even though we had a directive, which is public knowledge, it still took us over two years to negotiate with IESO for those contracts, but it's the first of its kind.
What does that mean to us? It means 60 full-time jobs. If you think 400 people and what 60 jobs does at $3.5 million in annual wages, it's significant. If you move that over to Toronto or Ottawa, what type of plant would we be talking about? It's all through the bioeconomy.
How did we get this far? Craig and I sometimes look at ourselves and we say we don't know how. We've lived fiscally...writing funding proposals, looking for support. It's not a traditional project in the forestry industry where a bigger company could come and say, we see an opportunity, let's do our feasibility study, let's do our engineering, and let's build the thing. We haven't been able to do it that way. It's been very difficult, but we've kept this going based on the need of the community. What we're trying to show in Canada is a completely different way of looking at things.
Without NRCan, especially the indigenous forestry initiative, we would not be here today. That support has helped us at all of these steps, along with Ontario funding, and both FedNor and INAC have been involved. However, Natural Resources Canada has been our mainstay and our main helper. We've even used some of the scientific research reports to help move the project forward.
This rather complex-looking slide is about looking forward to 2025. What does the sustainable bioeconomy look like? We're now having the local forest for a local community maximizing benefits from it. We're creating our own electricity. We're producing economic development of a wood pellet plant. We're going to use waste heat for a greenhouse for fresh vegetables for the community.
It's full circular. We're going to look at new housing and using some of the wood for our own houses. All of our circles and community sustainability are within it now. As a special note, by the year 2050—and this was an analysis done by both Canada and Ontario—we will be reducing 488,000 tonnes, or 163 tonnes per person, of GHG, compared to Ontario's target of 26 tonnes per person. It is revolutionary. It's something that is based on Swedish and Finnish models. It's a bioeconomy village.
To close, I think what drives me and Craig in this project is the notion that if you're on social assistance in Canada, you're living in poverty. I don't believe that with the wealth and resources from our forests, from all of our natural resources, and from our innovation in Canada, anybody should be living in poverty.
For the committee, we're not here to get more or do more. We're here just to let you know that the bioeconomy is something special. It needs any type of support, as these gentlemen have said, that can help it flourish. What does it mean for social growth, economic development and environmental responsibility? In a community like Whitesand, carbon reduction through the bioeconomy is poverty reduction, and to me that is one of the loftiest goals anybody can try to do.
We want to thank you for your time, and today is a very big day for us. At the Treasury Board Secretariat of Ontario this morning, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry is presenting our project to the Ontario greenhouse gas reduction account for $30 million in capital funding.
That is hand in hand with Canada's low carbon economy leadership fund, which Ontario nominated us for as their priority project. That would also give us $20 million. That $50 million in capital funding has allowed us to secure $22 million in financing as a small first nation.
We're very confident that this is going through and that we'll be beginning construction this year. We extend an invitation to this committee to have a meeting up there in two years' time when we're built, to see what the bioeconomy looks like.
You guys and your time limits.
Canada is doing the pan-Canadian framework on reducing diesel. You have some new programs coming out that will help communities do retrofits or fuel replacements. Ontario's doing the same. Ontario's actually moving to another treasury board to convert our homes now from diesel furnaces.
How do you support it across the whole country? What happens a lot is that these funding programs are competitive. Some first nations.... I'll have to say that we're one of them. Craig and I know how to write funding proposals; we've been very good at it. It turns into a competition and somebody is turned down. At times, I think we need to prioritize. Do we look at the largest or the most needy? It's very difficult to cross the whole landscape.
I met a girl from Austria. What they did, to get off diesel, and what it did to their gross domestic product.... Now, they are world leaders in pellet stoves and boilers and district heating systems, which are manufactured there, that now come to Canada. We're looking at a few. It's the same in Finland. By building this economy here.... We just got another offer. All of our pellets are going to Europe, right now. Why? We were just contacted by Canadian Tire, which would be great for us. We need to build that domestic market, so that people....
The price of diesel and propane in northern Ontario is crazy. Many people have traditional fireplaces, with wood, those things. That's even getting harder. I'm 61 now, so it's hard for me to do my firewood every year. I'm going to convert to pellets.
I think Ontario has a new program coming where you can do retrofits.
First nations are so innate.... If you put in one small heating system, electrical system, or district heating system in a first nation, you're creating one, two, three, four, or five jobs. That may not sound like a lot, but in a lot of these communities, that's the spinoff. The spinoff is that you're building the economy, capacity, and employment opportunities.
It's very hard to answer your questions very quickly.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Bonjour
My name is Éric Baril. I'm the Acting Director General of the Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre of the National Research Council. I'm joined today by Nathalie Legros, the technology leader for polymer and composite products manufacturing in the NRC advanced manufacturing program.
We are pleased to have been invited to speak with you today.
Before taking your questions, we would like to take this opportunity to briefly discuss with you where the NRC has been, what we are doing today in support of Government of Canada priorities and the Canadian economy, and, based on current trends, where we see the future of biomass research in Canada.
So to start, I want to share with you an idea of the scale and scope of the NRC.
The National Research Council Canada is a national organization with some 3,700 scientists, engineers, technicians, and other specialists, including 255 business and technology advisors through NRC's industrial research assistance program, located across the country.
Our 14 research centres operate out of 22 locations, spanning Canada's geography. You will find the NRC's ocean, coastal, and river engineering research facilities in St. John's, and our astronomy and astrophysics centre in British Columbia.
My own research centre, automotive and surface transportation, for example, operates research facilities here in Ottawa as well as four other facilities in Ontario and Quebec. Our work covers a broad range of research disciplines, the outcomes of which have changed the lives of Canadians and people around the globe. The 14 research centres are mobilized to deliver on 37 targeted R and D programs.
The NRC has been the Government of Canada's premier federal research and development organization over the past century. We have acquired a reputation for excellence, with breakthrough inventions such as radar, the pacemaker, the black box, canola, the Canadarm, a vaccine against meningitis, 100-year cement used for critical infrastructure, and the first bio-fueled jet flight in the world. Moreover, we are proud to claim the late Dr. Gerhard Herzberg, who won a Nobel Prize for his work in molecular spectroscopy, as one of our researchers.
Each year, our organization works closely with industry, conducting research and development work with over 1,000 businesses. We provide technical advice to some 11,000 SMEs, and we collaborate with close to 152 research hospitals, 72 universities and colleges, 34 federal departments, and 35 international partners.
The NRC is an organization that emphasizes collaboration and the convening of technologies. We are aligned with federal priorities, and today we focus on three core areas: delivery of business innovation, support for federal mandates, and advancing science and innovation through exploratory research.
The research conducted at NRC in support of the bioeconomy is highly interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral. That being the case, we conduct initiatives in bioenergy, bio-based specialty chemicals, and industrial biomaterials.
Today we will concentrate on industrial biomaterials.
Working directly with clients, we provide technical services, technology development support, and credible scientific advice to assist technology-based Canadian companies transform our country's renewable resources into sustainable, high-value products.
Over the past 20 years, the NRC bioproducts programs have contributed to accelerating the innovation process by ensuring that Canadian companies have access to the best and most cost-effective research and technology support available, to support the need to develop new processes and products, and to bring them to market as quickly as possible.
The NRC is active in the research and development of industrial biomaterials, defined as products made, entirely or partially, from renewable resources, to be used by many different industries. We focus on using the byproducts and residues of the agriculture and forestry industries to produce cost-effective, lightweight, and eco-responsible products that effectively reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. This focus results in the enhancement of Canada's manufacturing companies and their competitiveness in the global market.
Our research transforms non-food-grade and renewable resources widely available in Canada, such as forest biomasses like lignin and wood-derived fibres, and agricultural fibres for development of value-added products.
We also work with renewable chemicals and bio-based materials, including cellulosic fibres, bio-resins, and bio-additives. These materials are used in the development of specific products, ultimately providing renewable alternatives to identical fossil fuel derived products.
The results of these products and processes are environmental benefits, stability, low-cost, and unique properties that benefit and differentiate Canadian industry in general and manufacturing in particular.
As the demand for energy and plastics continues to grow, the pressure to identify renewable resources for the production of such materials is increasing. Globally, economies seem to be shifting towards bio-based solutions. Driving this migration is an increased desire to be environmentally friendly and questions on the future accessibility and/or depletion of petroleum.
This shift presents opportunities in areas where Canada has clear advantages from its abundance of agricultural and forestry assets. With greater frequency, manufacturers are using Canadian biomass products that do not compete with the food chain to replace petroleum-sourced plastic and fibres. This can be seen in the transportation, packaging, and even construction industries.
The biomaterials sector is of strategic importance to the growth of Canada's bioeconomy, improved environmental sustainability, and job creation.
Bio-products can effectively contribute to the development of sustainable materials for manufacturing industries. A number of these bio-products have already been implemented in automotive and construction today. Currently, most vehicle interiors incorporate bio-composites made with cellulosic fibres that can come from hemp, flax, wood or cotton. Another well-known example is the wood fibre composite boards that have been used in housing in North America for over a century.
One illustration of the potential for bioproducts is the collaboration between NRC and Domtar. We have worked together on the transformation of lignin powder into a product in a pellet form. This form can be handled and used by the manufacturing industry for the production of plastic parts without going through the costly step of melt compounding. This collaboration has led to a commercial-scale demonstration at Domtar's Canadian-based operations, and application developments with funding support from Natural Resources Canada.
Technologies that like these that we are developing open new higher value markets for forest biomass products and enhances competitiveness. Canadian manufacturers able to produce greener plastic products will create new economic and employment opportunities.
Earlier, I mentioned lignin and I would like to come back to this innovative product. Lignin is the second most abundant renewable carbon source and also a byproduct of chemical pulp mills. Previously, as lignin was considered a byproduct, it was primarily used as a low-grade fuel. However, lignin now is used to replace conventional petroleum-based polymers.
The lignin-based polymer products are not only cost-competitive and cost-effective, but are also more environmentally friendly as compared to petroleum-based counterparts. Proofs of concept with plastics containing lignin were conducted for insulation foams, automotive seating, various moulded parts, construction panels, and plastic films. They can be formulated and processed in conventional equipment.
In addition to lignin, we are also concentrating our research efforts on the utilization of Canadian wood and agricultural fibres for the production of biocomposites. The NRC has worked together with the automotive supply chain to develop cost-effective, light biocomposites for automotive interiors. The project outcomes provide effective solutions in converting Canadian cellulosic fibres into eco-responsible interior products. This ultimately contributes to the Canadian economy by generating wealth and creating jobs, while reducing pollution from vehicle production and in-service maintenance.
Overall, the NRC strengthens Canada's role as a leader in the development of sustainable bio-sourced materials and technologies.
Through collaboration and partnerships, like the examples offered, we are capable of integrating our technical expertise with the entrepreneurial spirit and business know-how of Canadian industry leaders. Together with industry, we are creating solutions for the manufacturing of new, lightweight, cost-effective material.
This technology will be used in future vehicles and homes.
In the course of achieving these impacts, NRC will lead the way in collaborative research and development with other science-based departments.
We will be validating hypotheses and claims, developing new knowledge, asking new questions, providing validated answers and solutions, and ultimately filling current knowledge gaps.
These research and development activities will be invaluable for industry when responding to new business opportunities created by the rapidly emerging bio-economy. Further, our research and development activities will be relevant for industry by ensuring that solutions are cost-effective and available where and when needed.
Going forward, we are equally well positioned to convene the right stakeholders to work collectively to play a major and distinct role in achieving Canadian goals for a vibrant bioeconomy. We accomplish this by supporting Canadian manufacturers and their supply chains, strengthening their research and technology development, product innovation, and manufacturing process capabilities. This, in turn, results in the successful development of commercially viable bioproducts and systems. This will make a difference to Canadians now and in decades to come.
To close, it is the NRC's breadth of experience, our unique scientific infrastructure, and our national scope, all combined, that enable us to bring players together from across Canada and abroad.
Thank you for your interest in the NRC. My colleague Nathalie and I will be pleased to answer any of your questions.