National AUTO21 Funding Supports Green Car Parts, Safer Roads

May 30, 2012 - News Release

Better car parts and safer roads are the goals of two new million-dollar University of Guelph-led research projects announced today.

Headed by Prof. Lana Trick, Department of Psychology, and Prof. Amar Mohanty, Department of Plant Agriculture, the projects are among 40 nationwide to be funded by a $22-million investment announced in Montreal by Gary Goodyear, minister of state, science and technology.

The funding comes from AUTO21, part of the national Networks of Centres of Excellence program, and from Canada’s automotive sector. Nearly 200 academic researchers will contribute to the 40 projects, which will also help train about 400 graduate students.

“These projects illustrate the depth and breadth of Guelph’s research in both innovation and practical application,” said Kevin Hall, vice-president (research).

“Our researchers are combining traditional crop science and cutting-edge technology to produce environmentally friendly high-performance car parts. They’re also coming up with practical ways to reduce automobile collisions and improve safety. This work is representative of the exceptional creative capacity at Guelph.”

Trick heads the Convergent Evidence from Naturalistic, Simulation and Epidemiology Data (CENSED) Network, along with Jeffrey Caird at the University of Calgary. By learning how cellphones and other distractions contribute to auto collisions, the researchers hope to help improve road safety. Automobile accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in Canada and cost hundreds of billions of dollars in damages every year.

Mohanty will lead the “Hybrid Biocomposites for Automotive Applications” project with Mohini Sain of the University of Toronto. They received more than $600,000 from AUTO21 in 2009 for a similar initiative.

They hope to use novel high-performance biocomposites in car parts, substituting petroleum-based products with renewable biomaterials.

“Hybrid biocomposite technology provides a unique opportunity for creating a sustainable competitive advantage, as it combines the benefits of different types of bioplastics with the eco-friendly characteristics of crop-derived biofibres,” Mohanty said.

“Ultimately these new biomaterials will provide the opportunity to implement green auto parts and, at the same time, reduce the carbon footprint. It is taking a big step to leave a small footprint.”

Prof. Manjusri Misra, School of Engineering, will also work on the project.

The research will take place in U of G’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre. Directed by Mohanty, who holds the Premier’s Research Chair in Biomaterials and Transportation, the centre studies the use of new industrial crops and biomass for green composite materials in car parts, building materials and packaging.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or

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