The Canadian government launches a C$55 million ($52.8 million), 5-year industrial biomaterials program designed to help create more lightweight, fuel-efficient vehicles.

The funding involves C$30 million ($28.8 million) from the National Research Council of Canada and C$25 million ($24 million) generated through collaborative projects with industry, academic institutions and other government departments.

The aim is to have Canadian businesses transform agricultural and forestry byproducts into new materials and reduce the use of petroleum-based polymers.

Bioresins, biofibers and biocomposites will be made from Canadian non-food biomass, such as wood, lignin, grain husks, flax and hemp stems.

National Research Council of Canada President John R. McDougall says these will provide manufacturers with sustainable, durable green products to use in next-generation automobiles and building materials.

“Agricultural and forestry byproducts will be integrated into new materials, which will ultimately reduce the use of petroleum-based polymers,” McDougall says in a statement. “These biomaterials promise to be as safe as the materials currently in use by industry, inexpensive to produce and the ideal lightweight technology for the automotive and construction sectors.”

The program will combine resources from Canadian businesses to advance research and development in the manufacturing of industrial biomaterials. It also is intended to help Canada’s transportation and construction industries remain competitive in global markets by ensuring auto-parts manufacturers and green building-material suppliers can adopt the new technologies.

Science and Technology Minister Greg Rickford says the new program will strengthen Canada’s role as a leader in the development of innovative and sustainable materials and technologies.