Agricultural Fibres into Specialty Book Paper


Canopy, Cascades Fine Papers Group and Alberta Innovates partners with McCallum Printing Group.


Julie Loyer of Cascades Fine Papers Group and Tech
Futures' Pulp and Paper Team Lead Wade Chute checking
the quality of a fresh sheet of agrifibre-based paper.


Canopy, an environmental not-for-profit organization located in Vancouver, BC, approached Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures to lend technical expertise on a pilot project testing the feasibility of producing book quality paper using pulps made from agricultural residues and recycled wood fibre. The book was to be a limited edition of a new release from a prominent Canadian author.

AITF’s expertise in biomaterials research and development has resulted in successful pilots demonstrating the technical feasibility, quality product potential and economic value of various agricultural fibre applications. Participation in the pilot presented an opportunity to expand this knowledge base.

AITF drew on its pulp production and research experience to test the technical feasibility of processing rapidly renewable agricultural fibres into pulps for papermaking using conventional mechanical pulping machinery. AITF worked with Cascades Fine Papers to formulate a sheet from a blend of imported wheat straw pulp, Alberta flax fibre and recycled paper that satisfied both the technical demands of the printer and the objectives of the client.

Residual flax straw from oilseed production was sourced from farms in east-central Alberta and processed at the Alberta Biomaterials Development Centre’s* (ABDC’s) pilot-scale decortication system at the AITF facility in Vegreville. The resulting flax fibre was mechanically pulped and peroxide-bleached in AITF’s pulping facility in Edmonton and shipped to Cascades’ specialty paper mill in St-Jérôme, Québec where it was blended with imported wheat straw pulp and recycled wood fibre pulp before being formed into paper. Wade Chute, Team Leader – Pulp and Paper at AITF, lent expertise to help the paper mill produce the new form of paper containing non-wood pulps.

*ABDC is a virtual centre that offers entrepreneurs and businesses, the collective research strengths of Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, and Sustainable Resource Development.


Flax bast fibre - mechanically pulped and processed
at AITF's pilot plant in Edmonton.


The pilot project enabled AITF to demonstrate the technical feasibility of producing unique, high quality pulps using Alberta’s post-harvest agricultural residues from cereal and oilseed production to meet a rapidly-growing market demand for environmentally-sustainable papers.

With the pilot project having successfully demonstrated technical feasibility, the next step for Alberta’s renewable resource sector will be to evaluate the business case for the commercial production of agrifibre mechanical pulps.

The ABDC is available to work with businesses interested in exploring this commercial viability of manufacturing flax mechanical pulps for the emerging non-wood pulp market. In addition, AITF has pilot-scale facilities for pulping and bleaching both wood and agricultural residues to support any pre-commercial production and evaluation of prototype products and technologies the Alberta industry may want to pursue.

Discussions will be held with the agricultural and forestry industries to further assess the potential and determine next steps.

To see more stories and videos, visit our Success Stories Map


Put our expertise to work for you:



Related links:

Behzad Ahvazi   Alberta Biomaterials Development Centre
Program Lead   More about Tech Futures' work in this area
Biomass Processing & Conversion