Prof. Amar Mohanty, Distinguished Research Chair, Ontario Agriculture College
Director, Bioproducts Discovery & Development Centre, University of Guelph, Ontario,
Prof. Andrew Hrymak, Special Advisor to the President (Industry Partnerships, Green Economy, and Sustainability) and Director, Fraunhofer Innovation Platform for Composites Research, Western University, Ontario.

Registration (free) is Required

(in-person event)



Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of mobility. A regulatory framework is emerging. Consumer demand is accelerating. The auto industry’s transition is in full swing. Electrifying transportation is having profound impact on achieving the zero-emission targets in Canada and around the world. The transformation creates unprecedented opportunities for sustainable materials to maximize the climate benefits of EVs. 

This in-person workshop is focused on the state-of-the-art and future directions of sustainable materials for EVs. Leading experts from academia, industry and government will explore topics ranging from advanced material technologies for lightweighting, to innovative solutions for boosting EV safety, life cycle assessment, and circular strategies for EV sustainability.

Focus Areas:

  • Sustainable materials for EVs - Opportunities & challenges 
  • New directions in zero emissions and zero waste 
  • EV lightweighting 
  • Collision and fire safety of EVs 
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning 
  • Circular economy, markets, and policy 


Sustainable Composites Workshop 2022: Making Electric Vehicles Lighter and Safer

Program (Draft)

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2022


7:30 AM

Registration and Light Breakfast

8:00 – 8:05 AM

Opening Remarks by Workshop Chairs

  Andrew Hrymak, Special Advisor to the President, Western University, Canada

  Amar Mohanty, Distinguished Research Chair, OAC, University of Guelph, Canada


Welcome Remarks and Presentation

8:05 – 8:20 AM

 Charlotte Yates, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Guelph, Canada

8:20 – 8:25 AM

  Jeff Wood, Associate Dean and Director of International Composites Research Group, Western Engineering, Western University, Canada 

8:25 – 8:30 AM

  Rene Van Acker, Dean, OAC, University of Guelph, Canada


Keynote Session (Moderators: Amar Mohanty and Hamdy Khalil)

8:30 – 9:00 AM

  K1. Debbie Mielewski (Opening Keynote), Technical Fellow of Sustainability, Ford Motor Company, USA

9:00 – 9:20 AM

 K2. Jinghang Wu, Head of R&D for Polyurethane Systems and Polyols, BASF North America, USA

9:20 – 9:40 AM

  K3. Srikanth Pilla, Professor of Automotive Engineering, Clemson University, USA

9:40 – 10:00 AM

  K4. Alex Baltazar, Senior Product Engineer, Magna Exteriors, Canada

10:00 – 10:30 AM

Networking Break


 Keynote Session (Continued) 

10:30 – 10:50 AM

 K5.  Ayse Ademuwagun, Materials Technical Professional, Varroc Lighting, USA

10:50 – 11:10 AM

  K6. Balpreet Kukreja, Fleet Engineer, City of Vancouver, Canada

11:10 – 11:30 PM

  K7. Amar Mohanty, Distinguished Research Chair, OAC, University of Guelph, Canada

11:30 – 12:15 PM

Keynote Session Q & A - Discussion 

12:15 – 1:15 PM

Networking Lunch - Sponsored by Anton Paar Canada

1:15 – 1:25 PM

Group Photo

1:25 – 1:45 PM

Afternoon Remarks


 Richard Zytner, Interim Dean, CEPS, University of Guelph, Canada 


  Michael Barten, Network Coordinator, CRIBE/Nextfor, Canada

1:45 – 3:15 PM

Invited Panel Session – Electric Vehicles Manufacturing and Sustainability


Moderators: Andrew Hrymak and Manjusri Misra

  P1. Michael Irwin, Vice President – Advanced Product and Chemical Technology, Woodbridge Foam Corporation, Canada 

  P2. Ning Yan, Professor & Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Bioproducts, University of Toronto, Canada

  P3. Kari Bliss, Principal Sustainability Lead, PADNOS, USA

  P4. Atul Bali, CEO, Competitive Green Technologies, Canada

  P5. Vanja Ugresic, Manager of Operations, Fraunhofer Innovation Platform for Composites Research, Western University, Canada

  P6. Murali Reddy, Innovation and Technology Manager, CpK Interior Products Inc., Canada

3:15 – 4:00 PM Invited Panel Session - Q & A 

4:00 – 5:00 PM

Closing Remarks and Networking


Speakers And Moderators




Debbie Mielewski Headshot

Debbie Mielewski

Technical Fellow of Sustainability

Ford Motor Company


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Dr. Deborah Mielewski is the Technical Fellow of Sustainability at Ford Motor Company, Research and Innovation Center. She received her B.S.E. ('86), M.S.E. ('93) and PhD ('98) degrees in Chemical Engineering, all from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and has been with Ford Motor Company for 33 years. Dr. Mielewski has worked at Ford Research in automotive paint durability, polymer processing and materials development. She initiated the biomaterials program at Ford Research in 2001, and her team was the first to demonstrate soy-based foam that met all the requirements for automotive seating. Ford launched soy-based foam on the 2008 Mustang, and soy seat cushions, backs and headrests have found their way into every Ford North American built vehicle. Bio-based foams currently reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 25 million pounds and reduce petroleum dependence by over 5 million pounds annually. 

Since that first laboratory success in formulating and launching the first automotive soy-based foam over a decade ago, the Ford biomaterials research team has been working to expand the use of sustainable plastic materials in vehicles. Ford currently has over a dozen renewable materials in production vehicles, including natural fiber reinforced composites such as wheat straw, rice hulls and cellulose fiber from trees. These materials meet all the stringent requirements of automotive, many times exceeding the performance of traditional plastic composite materials. The team continues to search for innovative and creative bio-technologies that can reduce our dependence on petroleum, create new markets for agricultural products and additional revenue streams for farmers, as well as reduce vehicle weight, which results in improved fuel efficiency and lower vehicle emissions. Over the past 2 years, Ford has kicked off several new material investigations on materials such as cellulose nanofibers (CNF, CNC, cellulose filaments), materials from carbon dioxide, and have even started to apply our knowledge in “green” materials to the exploding area of 3d printing. Late last year, Ford pioneered the introduction of the first bio-carbon made from McDonald’s coffee chaff into the headlamp housings of the Lincoln Continental.

Dr. Mielewski is passionate about the work she does to reduce Ford’s environmental footprint and believes that these new materials are going to dominate the market in the future. Her philosophy is to “do the right thing” in incremental, but ever advancing steps. She has appeared in a Ford national commercial, the NOVA “Making Things” series, and has been interviewed by countless media outlets, including Wall Street Journal, Time Inc. and CNN. She has over 60 referred journal publications and 20 U. S. patents. Her work has been acknowledged with awards such as the Henry Ford Technology Award, the R&D100 Award, the Free Press Automotive Leadership Award, the Environmental Management Association Award, 5 SPE Environmental Innovation Awards and the American Chemical Society’s Industrial Innovation Award. She has spoken at prestigious outlets such as TED and the Smithsonian “Age of Plastics Symposium”.

Amar Mohanty Headshot

Amar Mohanty

Distinguished Research Chair, OAC, and Director of the BDDC

OAC, University of Guelph, Canada


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Bio Products Centre - Director

Amar Mohanty is a Full Professor and Distinguished Research Chair in Sustainable Biomaterials at the Ontario Agriculture College and is the Director of the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He is a former Michigan State University professor and currently holds Distinguished Professor position at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Guwahati, in India and a Visiting Professor status at the University of Portsmouth, in the UK.

Prof. Mohanty is an international leader in the field of bioplastics, biocomposites and advanced biorefinery. His research focuses on engineering value-added uses of biomass wastes and industrial co-products from agro-food and biofuel industries. Circular economy, environmental sustainability, waste plastic valorization, biodegradable plastics as single-use plastic alternatives, biocarbon based composites and 3D printing of sustainable materials are other areas of his expertize.  

Jinghang Wu Headshot

Jinghang Wu

Head of R&D for Polyurethane Systems and Polyols

BASF North America, United States


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BASF – Canada

Jinghang Wu is currently the Head of R&D for Polyurethane Systems and Polyols at BASF North America. In the current role, he is responsible for developing urethane and polyol technologies including Rigid Foam, Flexible foam, Elastomers, and Composites. The North America center for BASF’s Urethane system product development is located at Wyandotte, Michigan, supporting Construction, Transportation, Consumer and Industrial markets.

Jinghang also has extensive industrial experience in industrial coatings and dispersions. Before Joining BASF, Jinghang was a lead R&D manager at Dow Chemical company, responsible for Mechanical Dispersions, Encapsulation and release R&D supporting different markets including Adhesives, Packaging, Coatings, Personal care etc..

Jinghang holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in Macromolecular Science and Engineering, and an MBA from Northwestern University.

Srikanth Pilla Headshot

Srikanth Pilla

Robert Patrick Jenkins Endowed Professor of Automotive Engineering at Clemson University

Department of Automotive Engineering, Clemson University, United States


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Dr. Srikanth Pilla-Clemson University

Dr. Srikanth Pilla is the Robert Patrick Jenkins endowed professor of automotive engineering at Clemson University. He is also the founding director of Clemson Composites Center. Pilla’s research interests are in the fundamentals and applications of sustainable and lightweight functional materials and manufacturing. Pilla has co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed archival publications. His research is supported by NSF, DOE, USDA, DOD, and NASA, besides several foundations and industries including automotive OEMs, and their suppliers. Pilla’s efforts in research and engineering education have garnered him numerous awards, including the 2022 DOE-Vehicle Technologies Office Team award and 2021 US EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

Alexander Baltazar Headshot

Alex Baltazar

Senior Product Engineer

Magna Exteriors, Canada


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Magna Exteriors | Magna

As Senior Product Engineer for Magna Exteriors, Alex Baltazar leads the development of renewable and sustainable materials. In this role, Alex works with global suppliers to replace mineral fillers and fibers with environmentally-friendly options to reduce the carbon footprint of our products.

Alex first joined Magna in 2012 as a Plant-based Composites Trim Lead. Prior to his current role he was a Product and Process Development Engineer specially focused on functional coatings, additive manufacturing, and hardware sensor integration. He is recognized as an expert in innovating sustainable solutions specifically in the development of natural fiber reinforced polymer composite materials to reduce vehicle environmental impact.

Alex earned his doctorate degree from Imperial College London on the Development of Renewable Composites and his master’s degree from the University of Warwick on the Prevention and Reduction of Plastic Waste in End-of-Life Vehicles. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Biocomposites and Biomaterials Processing at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Baltazar has published more than 30 papers and 8 patents in his area of expertise.

Ayse Ademuwagun Headshot

Ayse Ademuwagun

Senior Materials Technical Professional

Varroc Lighting Systems, USA


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Home (

Ayse Ademuwagun received a B.S. degree in Chemistry and a Master in Science degree in Polymer Technology from Eastern Michigan University. She has 6 years formulation experience for UV curable coatings and over 15 years of experience working in automotive industry as a Sr. Materials Engineer. Currently working as a Sr. Materials Technical Professional at Varroc Lighting Systems. Specialized in polymers, coatings and adhesives for automotive applications and responsible for materials selection, product development, quality and manufacturing support. Passionate on making sustainable automotive parts by incorporating recycle polymers or bio-based materials.

Balpreet Kukreja Headshot

Balpreet Kukreja


Fleet Engineer at the City of Vancouver

Fleet Strategy & Asset Management, City of Vancouver, Canada


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Balpreet K. | LinkedIn

Balpreet Kukreja believes in the power of clean energy to help fight climate change. He also understands the importance of building a strong business case for engineering projects — something he learned while completing his Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in Clean Energy Engineering degree at UBC.

Kukreja graduated in May 2019 and is now a fleet engineer with the City of Vancouver. He is using his education to help make the city more sustainable by introducing vehicles powered by electricity instead of fossil fuels.

Michael Barten Headshot

Michael Barten

Network Coordinator

CRIBE/Nextfor, Canada


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Michael Barten – CRIBE

Mike is the Nextfor Coordinator with CRIBE, overseeing industry collaboration activities through Nextfor, Industry Challenge Funds, and leading forest innovation initiatives. Prior to joining CRIBE, Mike worked as a natural resources consultant at a Thunder Bay based firm, specializing in the permitting and the forest products sector; and previously as a forestry technician at several working forests in Connecticut, USA.

Mike has 9+ years of experience as an environmental science & natural resources professional in the innovation,  sustainability, permitting, environmental and forestry consulting field.

Michael Irwin Headshot

Michael Irwin

Vice President – Advanced Product and Chemical Technology

Woodbridge Foam Corporation, Canada


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Mike holds a PhD and BSc (Honors) from the University of Western Ontario, in Chemistry (Inorganic, Organogold & Organoplatinum).  He received numerous post-graduate scholarships, including an NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Post-Graduate Scholarship and the Ontario Centre for Materials Research Graduate Scholarship.

Dr. Irwin has served on numerous boards, including the Ontario Phonics Consortium, University of Western Ontario Technology and Commercialization, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and a Council member of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Mike joined 3M Company in 1997 and held numerous positions over 25 years.  He was previously Executive Director Research & Development, 3M Canada, Technical Director, 3M Purification and Vice President Research and Development, Electrical Markets Division. In 2021 Mike left 3M to join Woodbridge Foam Corporation in his current role.  

Ning Yan Headshot

Ning Yan

Professor & Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Bioproducts

Department of Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada


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Ning Yang- University of Toronto

Professor Ning Yan is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Bioproducts. She also holds a University of Toronto Distinguished Professorship in Forest Biomaterials Engineering at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. She was also an Endowed Chair in Value Added Wood and Composites previously. Professor Yan has disseminated more than 300 publications, including more than 195 peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals. She is an international leading expert on biomaterial science, biopolymers, and bio-composites. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her teaching and research excellence and is a fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada and International Academy of Wood Sciences.

Kari Bliss Headshot

Kari Bliss

Principal Sustainability Lead

PADNOS, United States


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PADNOS - Recycling & Scrap Management

With over 20 years’ experience, Kari leads Sustainability at PADNOS, an industrial recycler of paper, plastics, metals, and electronics. She is a GreenBiz certified professional, Leading the Sustainability Transformation, GRI Certified Sustainability Professional, a board member of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, and the Treasurer of the Society of Plastic Engineers Recycling Division. She is a result driven leader skilled at developing sustainability initiatives. Her expertise in materials allows her to capitalize on circular economy market trends. In 2021 her team developed 27 solutions for OEM's and Tier 1 suppliers. Her ability to establish trust with a diverse array of customers, and identify what they value, brings all the necessary stakeholders together to solve complex circular economy challenges.

Atul Bali Headshot

Atul Bali


Competitive Green Technologies, Canada


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Competitive Green Technologies - COMPETITIVE GREEN TECHNOLOGIES

Atul Bali has over 35 years of professional experience in automotive industry and industrial applications. Worked in senior and leading management positions on three continents – Asia, Europe and North America. He is enabling commercialization of bio-based composite for applications including barrier food packaging, automotive components, certified compostable resins, and consumer products. He was instrumental in commercializing the compostable single-serve coffee pod.

Competitive Green Technologies is an SME established in 2011. Capital investments include proprietary extrusion technology with unique elements and barrel design, drying technologies for natural fibres and biocarbon, biocarbon profiling technologies fibre formatting technologies and proprietary mixing technologies.

Vanja Ugresic Headshot

Vanja Ugresic

Manager of Operations

Western University, Canada


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Vanja joined Fraunhofer Innovation Platform for Composites Research at Western (FIP-Composites at Western) in 2012. The FIP-Composites at Western is a not-for-profit joint venture between the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technologies (Fraunhofer ICT) in Pfinztal, Europe’s largest application-orientated research organization, and Western University in London, Ontario. FIP-Composites at Western is the state-of-the-art equipped research centre with full industrial scale equipment where the focus is on developing and processing composite materials for lightweight applications.

At the FIP-Composites at Western, Vanja is engaged in multiple, industry-led collaborative academic research and development programs focused on process and material development of polymer composites for high volume production rates. She manages the operations at the FIP-Composites at Western, overlooking the developments on short, long and continuous fiber technologies with both thermoplastic and thermoset resins. Her talk will focus on review of state-of-the-art technologies for composites and its applications.

Vanja received her Masters of Engineering Science (Chemical Engineering) and her Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from Western University, London, Canada. She worked at Techniche Universitat Munchen, Germany, as a Project Leader.

Murali Reddy Headshot

Murali Reddy

Innovation and Technology Manager

CpK Interior Products Inc., Canada


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Dr. Murali Reddy is an experienced Innovation and Technology Manager with expertise in new product development, commercialization, tech strategy and execution. He is expert in developing and validating Automotive Interior Plastics. At CpK, Dr. Reddy is responsible for developing and evaluating Lightweighting solutions and functional resins for next generation automotives. Dr. Reddy has utilized Graphene to improve and functionalize polymer resins used in award-winning automotive interiors. 

Dr. Reddy has active interest in EV materials, inlcuding lightweighting, graphene plastics, circularity and sustainability. He has co-authored over 40+ publications and 18+ patents applied/granted on plastics and processes.


Free Registration is Open


Register Here


Registration is Required

(in-person event)



Workshop Policies: 

Policy on Respectful Dialogue

The workshop on Sustainable Composites - Making Electric Vehicles Lighter and Safer is committed to a positive environment dedicated to excellence, equity and mutual respect. We welcome a wide diversity of participants from industry, government and academia. We encourage all attendees to keep dialogue courteous and criticism constructive. We encourage a lively and respectful debate of ideas. However, personal criticisms will not be tolerated. 

Policy on Social Media Use

The workshop on Sustainable Composites - Making Electric Vehicles Lighter and Safer encourages the use of social media before, during and after the workshop and we invite you to blog, tweet, or Instagram your experience of the workshop. 

We ask that you adhere to the following guidelines for social media use:

  • Refrain from sharing information when a speaker specifically requests that information NOT be shared;
  • Refrain from taking photographs when a presenter requests that their work not be photographed;
  • Be respectful of presenters and try to limit social media use during presentations;
  • Communicate your thoughts and ideas about the workshop in a respectful manner, keeping any criticism constructive; and
  • Do not engage in rudeness.

Policy on Speaker Presentations

Our policy for speakers prohibits sales-type presentations. Speakers are encouraged to avoid direct promotion or endorsement of any single company, product and/or service. However, speakers may use examples of products from their institute/company in the context of Sustainable Composites.

Hosted by:

BDDC-UofG Logo

  Western University in Cooperation with Fraunhofer Logo 

  Ford Logo





BDDC Logo       Ontario Agricultural College Logo 

   Western Engineering Logo

Anton Paar Logo



CRIBE Logo          Legend Fleet Solutions Logo



Woodbridge Group Logo   Competitive Green Technologies LogoRIO Logo



BIC Logo     CEPS Logo   OCI Logo           



Speaker Organizations:  

 University of Guelph Logo        University of Toronto Logo

Ford LogoDeakin University Logo


Clemson University Logo

City of Vancouver Logo        PANDOS Logo

Woodbridge Group LogoCpK LogoVarroc Lighting Systems Logo






Thursday September 29, 2022



7:30 AM to 5:00 PM

(Eastern Daylight Time)

Toronto, Canada time



OAC Centennial Arboretum Centre, University of Guelph, ON, Canada