In partnership with Genome Prairie, the University of Manitoba, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Westward Industries, the Composites Innovation Centre and FibreCITY are working towards fully bio-based parts for automotive applications with the Fibre Composite and Biomatrix (FiCoGEN) project.
Funded through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP), this three-year project is developing partially and fully bio-based composite parts for a Westward GO-4 demonstrator vehicle. From optimizing flax fibres and developing a bio-based resin to creating prototype parts, this project is revolutionizing the automotive industry by showcasing the capabilities of natural fibres.
The project is midway through and a lot of work has already been completed on it. UBC is optimizing flax genetics and has completed the first year of growing trials with 18 varieties and is currently growing down-selected varieties this year to gain data from multiple years. The CIC Testing team is using the equipment in the FibreCITY lab to test the quality of the fibres produced from the growing trials. They are looking at the fibre content, tensile strength, fibre morphology, chemical composition and crystallinity of the fibres to see which is best suited for composite applications.
The University of Manitoba has developed a bioresin formula and the next step is to create test panels with the resin and then test those for mechanical and physical properties.
Along with all of this, the CIC design team has converted the existing metallic design of the Westward GO-4 vehicle into a composite design. The CIC prototyping team has created the plugs for the seat, roof, dash and rear window with Eastside Industrial Coatings and Composites has made the moulds from those plugs. The next steps are to produce prototyped parts for the vehicle with fiberglass and then flax mats using RTM Light