By David Finlayson, Edmonton Journal
A car made of hemp may sound like someone's wacky fantasy, but it's as real as General Motors' bankruptcy.
Motive Industries in Calgary is building a vehicle using panels and other parts made of a hemp fibre material that's lighter and cheaper than glass fibre.
It's being put together to try to win the$10 millionXPrizecompetition for the car that gets 100 miles to the gallon and beats other green cars in a race.
And Motive will benefit from the $15 million Alberta Biomaterials Development Centre announced Thursday, says John Wolodko, polymers group leader at Alberta Research Council.
The structural components of the car, which will start trials in mid June, will still be made of more traditional materials, said Wolodko, whose team is helping with the Motive project.
Eventually more environmentally friendly fibres made of hemp and flax will replace glass fibre in cars and other manufacturing processes, he said.
"Some European car manufacturers are already using bio-materials."
The new centre, to be set up at ARC's agricultural research facility in Vegreville and at the University of Alberta, will also help Pildysh Technologies, which is developing portland cement blocks impregnated with bio-fibres that make them lighter and stronger.
Calgary-based Pildysh is a couple of years away from marketing a product, and vice-president Richard Bueble said the new centre should help speed the process.