Research brought us touchscreen and tablet computing, wireless networking, and electric self-driving cars. Sure these are all impressive accomplishments… but THIS could be bigger.
The other day, I got a call from my friend in Winnipeg, Canada. “We are growing tractors,” he said with excitement. I laughed. Growing tractors… nice try. Growing wheat made sense. Growing a machine, that sprouts from seeds… forget it. He insisted that the tractor is real. I skeptically congratulated him and immediately went to Google to see what’s up.
So, as it turns out, my friend hasn’t completely lost it. He speaks the truth. Researchers in Winnipeg are using natural fibres such as hemp and agave to make tractors. They have combined these with natural resins to create strong, durable and renewable materials that can be used as building materials and moulded into parts for vehicles.
As the costs of raw materials continue to rise around the world, and we attempt to reduce our impacts on the environment, we are forced to look for for greener, lighter materials that cost less to make.
Seizing on this opportunity, Winnipeg’s Composites Innovation Centre has fully committed itself to this challenge. So far, they’ve made a tractor, a motorcycle and an electric car with composites. The parts they’ve "grown" are replacing petroleum-based materials.
And they haven’t stopped there. The Composites Innovation Centre launched the Green Garage — a "real world" showcase for the latest developments and applications of bio-composites and alternative building materials.
Winnipeg is quickly becoming a world leader for bio-composite materials — they’ve actively engaged players in their own backyard, such as Boeing, GE and New Flyer Industries, who are providing opportunities to test these materials for real world applications.
So, yes, it may still be a few years before your next car is grown from seeds and constructed completely of natural fibres, but the day is coming. Winnipeg is redefining the term “home grown”.