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Canada launches new challenge to seek the development of novel bio-based foam insulation.

 “The Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association estimates that spray foam insulation is installed in between 300,000 to 400,000 Canadian homes every year.”

Living in Canada often means dealing with extremes – cold winters and hot summers. So, a lot of insulation is used to make homes comfortable to live in. At the moment, the vast majority of foam insulation products are largely produced using petrochemical feedstocks, according to the Canadian government. To find an alternative to this material, the government’s Department of Natural Resources has launched a challenge to fund the development of new bio-based foam insulation products.

Foam insulation, a type of plastic in foamed format, can be found in large rigid boards or sprayed in place. Conventional foam insulation generates significant GHG emissions during manufacturing and are not easily recyclable at end of life.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)’s ‘Plastic Challenge’ is offering grant funding of up to (CAN) $1.15 million for projects that develop foam insulation products that are predominantly derived from Canadian forest residue, and have similar insulation values (within 20%) as the currently available petroleum-based versions. The products also need to have “similar cost (within 20%) as currently available versions” and be “less flammable” than conventional versions and “fully recyclable at end of life”.

Trade body Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association estimates that spray foam insulation is installed in between 300,000 to 400,000 Canadian homes every year, a number that has been growing by 30 to 40% every year over the last decade.

In addition to this, according to Statistics Canada data, construction waste accounts for around 12% of all solid waste generated in Canada, most of which is currently disposed of in landfills.

The deadline for applicants to apply to the Challenge will be 27 August.

According to the NRCan, Canada’s abundance of biomass, together with its expanding infrastructure of biotechnology-based research, development and production, means the forest sector is ideally positioned to take advantage of a growing global bioproduct market (estimated to be worth $200bn).

Last year, Bio Market Insights spoke to Sandy Marshall, Executive Director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada – a not-for-profit organisation focussed on catalysing the further commercialisation of the bioeconomy.

When asked by Bio Market Insights what the agricultural sector could do better to connect with bio-based chemical and bio-based product manufactures, Marshall said: “Agriculture needs to take a leadership role in the bio-economy. There has been a good start here in Canada. It is critical that the question about the availability of sustainably harvestable biomass is answered through good science to allow the industry to grow and leverage Canadas great potential.

“Producers can also promote the bio-economy as an opportunity to diversify their business models. Generating revenue through feedstock sales to bio-based chemical and product producers or through participation as business partners and investors in these ventures can be very beneficial in reducing risk for all participants in the bio-economy.”

He added that the government could support these entrepreneurial activities through support of applied research and development of the science to assure society that the bioeconomy “based on agricultural feedstocks is both sustainable and critical to the fight against climate change”.


Bio Market Insights Issue #14If you were interested in this bio-based Canadian story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: Canada and Italy promote national bioeconomy strategies.

Read: How the Sarnia-Lambton cluster’s spirit of collaboration gives Canada’s bio-economy a global platform.

Read: How a unique set of building blocks have created a vibrant and growing bio-economy in Canada.

Read: BlackRock among the investors as Enerkem raises C$280 million in largest ever funding round.

Read: Commercialization opportunities of biomass to sugar conversion boosted by Canadian study.

Read: 5 Minutes With… Sandy Marshall, Executive Director, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada.

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