Aug. 14, 2020

Competition seeks new technologies to diversify Alberta’s natural resources sector

Four UCalgary researchers are successful recipients of Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge

Alberta has set its sights on a billion-dollar market. Carbon fibre is composed of carbon atoms bonded together, and its high strength and stiffness make composite materials that incorporate carbon fibres functionally superior to many conventional materials, for use in the transportation, infrastructure, construction and consumer product sectors.

Alberta Innovates launched the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge to accelerate the development of pathways for large-scale production of carbon fibre and advanced manufacturing products from Alberta’s bitumen. The province’s abundant bitumen resources and skilled workforce is uniquely well-suited to advanced manufacturing applications and is significantly less expensive than existing sources.

University of Calgary researchers Dr. Simon Park, PhD, Dr. Joanna Wong, Dr.sc.ETH, Dr. Jeff Van Humbeck, PhD, and Dr. Md Golam Kibria, PhD, are all successful recipients of the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge, and their work will significantly accelerate the development of this technology.

“Our researchers are well positioned to support the diversification of Alberta’s natural resources sector, and bring new revenue to the province,” says Dr. Bill Ghali, vice-president (research). “UCalgary is at the forefront of energy research and innovation. This work will expedite the development of these new technologies and position our institution as a leader in this area.”

The Alberta government is eager to see the research outcomes and subsequent benefits to the province. “Carbon fibre derived from Alberta’s bitumen is a significant opportunity for Alberta to diversify our natural resources sector, create jobs, open new markets and grow the economy,” says Tanya Fir, minister of economic development, trade and tourism.

The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge aims to produce new carbon fibre products and processes, reduce life cycle GHG emissions of carbon fibres and aid in the economic diversification of Alberta. There exists significant potential to increase the value of Alberta bitumen and grow Alberta’s green economy, all while increasing employment and export potential.