MISSISSAUGA, ON, Feb. 1, 2012 /CNW/ - A new biodegradable material made
from shrimp and crab shells that can replace petroleum-based plastics
used in auto components helped a University of Toronto student win a
national automotive competition. Aaron Guan, a master of science
student, won the AUTO21 TestDRIVE competition, receiving a $10,000 scholarship for his work on
recyclable, lightweight, polymeric nanocomposites.
Shrimp and crab shell fibres called chitin nanowhiskers form the base of
this new material, which would allow automotive components to meet
strict environmental standards without compromising vehicle safety.
This material has a much higher strength-to-weight ratio compared to
conventional plastics used in most automotive components, and provides
higher mechanical strength without aesthetic flaws or deformation at
Due to the composite nature of the material, mechanical properties can
easily be engineered to suit various strength, stiffness and weight
requirements simply by varying the combination of chitin nanowhisker
and polymer content. The material is also completely renewable and
sustainable as chitin nanowhiskers are derived from the waste of the
The AUTO21 TestDRIVE competition showcased leading edge technologies and
automotive knowledge developed in part by Canadian university graduate
students. As Canada's automotive research program, AUTO21 provides
funding to 38 applied R&D projects at 46 universities across the
country. Over 400 students contribute to these projects, along with
nearly 200 academic researchers. Since its establishment in 2001,
AUTO21 has supported more than 1600 graduate student researchers with
federal and private-sector funding.
"The development of Highly Qualified People or HQP is integral to the
success of any high technology industry and the future prosperity of
Canada. AUTO21 HQP each contribute to an industry-led research project
working on key issues in Canada's automotive sector," said Dr. Peter
Frise, Scientific Director and CEO of AUTO21. "TestDRIVE provides
another opportunity for our top students to engage with the automotive
R&D community and link their academic studies to real-world scenarios."
TestDRIVE was held in conjunction with Canadian Manufacturers &
Exporters' 2012 Small Manufacturing Summit, Driving Business Growth in Uncertain Times in Mississauga, Ontario.
"The TestDRIVE competition is a great way to showcase the tremendous
innovation capacity of today's young people and the endless
possibilities available to the next generation of manufacturing
leaders", said Ian Howcroft, Vice President, CME Ontario.
In addition to the $10,000 scholarship, a $5,000 scholarship was awarded
to Anthony Lombardi of Ryerson University for his research on reducing
distortion in aluminum engine blocks. A $2,500 scholarship was awarded
to Tara Kajaks of McMaster University for her research on improved
ergonomic simulation and modeling in manufacturing plants.
AUTO21 supports research projects in six key areas: health, safety and
injury prevention; societal issues; materials and manufacturing; design
processes; powertrains, fuels and emissions; and intelligent systems
and sensors. A recent independent economic impact study of AUTO21
projects estimates that Network research is generating more than $1.1
billion in economic and social benefits to Canada. AUTO21 is supported
by the Government of Canada through a Networks of Centres of Excellence
program, and its administrative centre is hosted by the University of
For further information:
Director of Public Affairs and Communications
AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence
Tel: 519.253.3000 ext. 4129