Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Alta. puts trust funds into ag fibre research

A project to develop soundproofing and car and furniture parts from hemp, flax and forest fibre will be a beneficiary of Alberta’s share from the federal Community Development Trust.

The provincial government announced Friday it would invest $10 million from the CDT in three projects to develop “environmentally friendly products and processes” in Alberta’s renewable resource sectors.

The funding will flow through the Alberta Forestry Research Institute.

Out of the $10 million committed, $4.5 million will go toward a research and development project at Fibremat Centre at Drayton Valley, about 110 km southwest of Edmonton.

The project will use flax and hemp fibre as well as forest fibre from aspen, spruce, pine and fir trees and study their potential uses in car interiors, furniture manufacturing, “geotextiles” for erosion control, and sound-insulating wall, floor, roof and ceiling panels.

The investment will form part of a larger project, the backers of which will include the Town of Drayton Valley, forest products firm Weyerhaeuser, and TTS Technologies, to set up a product development, prototyping and testing facility at Drayton Valley to field-test and manufacture such products. Plant equipment assembly is expected to start this spring.

Another $3.6 million from the CDT will go to set up a Centre for Excellence on Fast-growing Tree Plantations, north of St Albert, with satellite sites elsewhere in central Alberta.

The funds are expected to go toward demonstrations of how fast-growing willow and poplar plantations, fertilized with industrial wastewater and sludge, could become an “excellent” source of feedstock for cellulosic ethanol.

The remaining $1.8 million goes to the boreal reclamation program of the NAIT Boreal Centre at Peace River, to develop new methods of reclaiming well sites and other industrial sites to a “fully forested state.” Aboriginal communities will take part in that project.

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