With its vast forests and extensive agricultural land, Canada has the potential to become the leader of the bioeconomic revolution. It is predicted that by 2050, more than 50% of our chemicals and materials will come from biomass. This number is currently less than 5%, which suggests that in the next 30 years we will witness a revolution in the chemical sciences and engineering.
Canada is only at 5% of bio-based resource potential today because of technical challenges, supply (or value) chain management and the need to de-risk industry investment. BiRNet aims to lead Canadian efforts in creation of cost competitive, North American bioeconomy focused on renewable and sustainable products from nature.
The Bio-innovative Renewables Network (BiRNet) aims to align and lead Canada’s applied research efforts to create a cost-competitive bio-economy focused on renewable and recyclable products derived from Canada’s abundant and sustainable forestry and agricultural natural resources.
BiRNet has been short listed for a significant funding opportunity (NCE Networks Centre of Excellence) that would provide $20M in federal funding over the next five years. The Network Leadership Team is now preparing the full proposal to secure this funding.
BiRNet’s research will be focused around three Strategic Focus Areas:
We propose to deconstruct, modify and reconstruct the structural elements in the plant cell wall to create new transformative value propositions, with a particular focus on low-weight renewable composites that:
- Significantly reduce fuel consumption by cars or airplanes,
- Provide strength and insulative properties from construction to paper-based electronics, or products that are integrated into paper-based electronics.
We will fine-tune biomass constituents to leverage their natural complexity and properties to better modern society. This will deliver reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, better land stewardship, higher paying technical jobs for rural and forest communities, and a deeper, intellectual connection to the natural world that humanity so desperately needs for its continued existence.
Implementation of BiRNet in Canada will result in a 5-10 year return that includes:
- Establishment of regional case studies to increase stakeholder engagement and develop social license for the expanded bio-based economy in Canada
- Knowledge of diversified pathways for the best use of climate-impacted bio-resources in Canada
- Validation of significant reductions in GHG emissions, and better understanding of long-term carbon sequestration through strategic deployment of Canadian bioproducts
- Acceleration of pre-commercial demonstration of at least three new bio-based products, including polymers and advanced hybrid composites, capable of enhancing Canadian economic growth and exports; and
- Increased training of HQP for the emerging bio-based economy, whilst strengthening traditional land-based-sectors (i.e. forestry and agriculture).
Networking and Partnerships
BiRNet will transfer its research deliverables to its partners to promote demonstrate the viability of the bioeconomy. To ensure the research is aligned to achieve this purpose BiRNet has engaged the following key partnerships:
- 22 participating Universities/Colleges (60+ researchers),
- 4 not-for-profit sector partners and
- More than 20 private sector and government partners.