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$21M funding supports new tech projects in forest sector


Toronto, ON – Canada’s forest industries R&D institute FPInnovations (FPI) is receiving $20.6 million in funding from Natural Resources Canada. The funding announcement was made at the Ontario Forest Industries Association’s 72nd annual meeting in late February.

The funding will allow FPI to continue work on large transformative technology projects in its collaborative research program for another year. These large-scale projects include a nanocrystalline cellulose plant in Quebec developed in conjunction with Domtar, and a cellulose filament (CF) demonstration pilot plant at a Kruger-owned paper mill in Trois-Rivières, as well as a 13-storey, 41-metre wood condo unit in Quebec City — the tallest residential solid wood structure in North America.

Jennifer Ellson, senior communications specialist with FPI, says the last time these programs were funded was for three years and they are now at the point of transition as many projects are moving to commercialization.

She adds that the latest funding will also enable the institute to fast track some of its more innovative projects, such as the thermo mechanical pulp conversion into sugars for use in the chemical industry in Sarnia, to replace petrochemical sources. In addition, other new areas of R&D could open up, such as the use of drones for intelligent forest inventory to more accurately identify species, and the “sawmill of the future” concept.

“The ‘sawmill of the future’ involves scanning every piece of the tree and designing the best product out of the geometry of that tree,” says Pierre Lapointe, the institute’s president and CEO. “It will also help in logistics, determining the best tree for the right sawmill.”