Conference Focuses on Renewable Future

Canada is in a unique position to be a leader in the development of bio-based materials, says an official with the Ford Motor Co.

Debbie Mielewski, the car company’s senior technical lead for materials sustainability, spoke Wednesday at a Canadian BioDesign Conference held at the Lambton College Event Centre.

The conference, which attracted nearly 180 participants from industry and government agencies, was hosted by the college and Sarnia-based Bioindustrial Innovation Canada.

Mielewski’s assessment was echoed at the conference by Murray McLaughlin, an advisor with Bioindustrial Innovation Canada.

“Biomass is a key strength in this country,” he said.

Biomass, which includes materials such as sawdust from the lumber industry and corn stalks from farming, provides renewable feedstock for bio-fuel and bio-chemical companies.

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, a government-funded agency, has been working, along with others, to attract bio-chemical companies to the Sarnia area.

“Between forestry and agriculture, we have plenty of biomass and we just have to learn how to utilize it,” McLaughlin said during one of the panels at Wednesday’s conference.

“We have a lot of things to learn about accessing it, transporting it and processing it.”