Both the ability to transform a low-cost raw material into a set of proprietary high value products, and the vertical integration of our business from farm gate to factory floor are at the center of our business strategy.
TURNING PLANTS INTO PRODUCTS™
Hemp has been legally grown in the Canadian Prairies since 1998, primarily for plant-based protein. INCA will acquire the remaining biomass from large growers, decorticate this material in our Vegreville, Alberta factory, and refine it into long fiber, short fiber, and hurd.
“This project will create a new vertically integrated market for hemp in Alberta. By purchasing hemp directly from Alberta’s farmers, and processing it here in the province, this project will mitigate production risks for producers, add value to the crop, and make hemp one of the most profitable cash crops in Alberta.”
Alberta Minister of Agriculture,
Forestry and Rural Economic Development
At this same location hurd will be processed into INCA BioCore™, a direct replacement for balsa wood. The long and short fiber will be compressed into bales and sent via rail to our second factory in Indiana. There it will be manufactured into INCA BioPanels™ for the RV and building materials industries and compounded with polymers to make INCA BioPlastics™ for injection molders in the automotive and consumer products industries.
Although separated by 1,600 miles, these two factories function as a single, vertically integrated operation. Sourcing hemp under long term off-take agreements in Canada radically lowers the cost of natural fiber.
Locating the fiber processing operation within a 200-mile radius of raw material supply reduces logistics costs, enables quality control of raw material, and is in close proximity of markets for the hurd-based products.
The Indiana facility is within a 150-mile radius of our largest customers in the automotive, RV, consumer plastics, and building materials industries.
“A more sustainable, diversified provincial economy requires using our resources more wisely, we need to think about waste as a resource rather than a cost. This investment in converting waste into other uses is going to make a real difference.”
CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta
“Advancing technology solutions that support a circular economy makes good environmental and economic sense. Circular Economy Challenge projects supported by the TIER fund will help keep valuable materials in the economy and out of landfills, which drives investment, bolsters economic activity, cuts emissions, and creates jobs. It’s a win across the board.”
Alberta Minister of Environment and Protected Areas
INCA is locating a fiber processing and composites manufacturing facility in Vegreville, Alberta within a 150-mile radius of the largest hemp famers in North America, with excellent rail access to Indiana.
We will be located beside InnoTech Alberta, the premier research lab for hemp genomics and agronomics, and our research partner.
We are locating a second composites manufacturing facility in Indiana, within a 150-mile radius of our largest customers in the automotive, RV, and consumer products industries.
In Alberta, INCA will process hemp fiber and hurd and manufacture INCA BioCore™, a direct replacement for balsa wood in wind turbine blades. The outer bast fiber will be further processed and sent via rail to Indiana.
In Indiana, INCA will manufacture BioPanels™ for the RV industry, PrePregs™ for the automotive industry and BioPlastics™ for the consumer products industry.
INCA FIBER PROCESSING LINE
Our fiber processing line in Western Canada will be located within a 125,000 square foot building with rail and road access. Bales of hemp straw will enter a bale breaker, be unrolled, and then conveyed into a sophisticated decortication line which will separate the long bast fiber from the short inner core or hurd. Material is further processed and separated into distinct fiber architecture per the specifications of each of the product lines.
INCA BIOPLASTICS™ LINE
Clean short bast fiber will be dehumidified using an RF dryer, then mixed with various polymers and additives, and made into pellets with up to 30% fiber content. For example, one customer may want to use recycled polypropylene while another may want to use polylactic acid to create a 100% bio-based final product. These pellets can be fed directly into injection, compression or extrusion lines with little or no modification to our customer’s existing equipment.
INCA BIOPANEL™ LINE
Clean long bast fiber will be deposited onto a continuous belt line where it will be infused with liquid polymer and additives. This low-density mat will enter a twin steel belt press where it will be heated and compressed into panels of up to 45 feet in length. They will be cross-cut, edge-trimmed, and surfaced per customer specifications. This ability to paint or even coat panels with automotive surfaces in-line represents significant intellectual property of the Company.
INCA PREPREGS™ LINE
Multilayered mats of hemp fiber will be produced and infused with foamed thermal melt resin. The material will be consolidated on our twin-belt press to produce thermoformable pre-pregs for the automotive industry.
INCA BIOCORE™ LINE
INCA will refine hemp hurd into a balsa-like material with high, uniform compressive strength, and a density of 10 pounds per cubic foot, the ideal weight for turbine blades. Unlike balsa wood, it can be formulated to increase moisture resistance, and “tuned” to be compatible with specific resin systems. Unlike PET and PVC foams,
It has the sheer strength required for installation in all sections of the turbine blade, including the root section.
By Camille Saltman
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