Dr. Amar K. Mohanty, Professor

Dr. Leonardo C. Simon 
Associate Professor, University of Waterloo - Waterloo, Ontario


With the end consumer in mind, Ontario’s Biomaterials A-Team member, Dr. Leonardo Simon’s research in nanotechnology and renewable materials is not only revolutionizing the composition of plastics but in doing so, having a significant commercial impact, particularly in the automotive industry.

Representing the University of Waterloo as part of a multi-university team working on the Ontario government-funded BioCar project, Dr. Simon developed grades of renewable fibres, such as straw, to obtain new functionality and then incorporate these fibres into thermoplastic composites for practical applications. These new composites are lightweight and just as strong, if not stronger as their predecessors and can be used in vehicles parts such as bumpers, fascias, door panels and dashboards.

Ford Motor Company was the first to make use of the new parts in 2009 in their Oakville plant. With the new plastics being lighter, the end result is a contribution to more fuel efficient vehicle that generates less carbon dioxide. This technology has generated significant interest overseas where Dr. Simon has spoken about it in Japan, Germany,  China and Brazil.

“I develop materials with the final application in mind”, says Dr. Simon.  “I look for a need, and then bring the issue into the lab. Specialized plastics are everywhere. For example, a toothbrush needs to be strong not to break, but yet flexible with soft plastic bristles, so requires a combination of polymers to be engineered. I’m working with a wide variety of renewable feedstocks and nanomaterials which can replace or work with petrochemical plastics.”

The recipient of a number of awards, including Canada’s Top 40 under 40 Award in 2009, Dr. Simon’s focuses on creating new properties in polymer (plastics) based materials. Trying to determine the best attributes of bioplastics to work with or replace petrochemical plastics, he is investigating compounding – the mixing of different ingredients to achieve a balance of final attributes – and polymer reaction engineering.  Utilization of nanomaterials leads to the preparation of polymer nanocomposites, which can have improved mechanical and thermal properties and provide a gas barrier and fire resistance without affecting optical properties, increasing density or causing processing difficulties. This has the potential to improve the performance of packaging, molded automotive and electronics parts, aircraft interiors and appliance components.

Dr. Simon grew up in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil where he obtained his masters in Chemical Engineering and a PhD in Materials Science. He was invited to teach at the University of Waterloo after first coming as a visiting PhD scholar, and is now an Associate Professor teaching Material Sciences for Nanotechnology Engineering at the undergraduate level and Polymer Science for Chemical Engineering at the graduate level. Dr. Simon works with companies such as Hematite-Pavaco, OMTEC, A. Schulman, Ford and Braskem.
http://web2.uwindsor.ca/ciramc/images/empty.gifThe new Ontario Biomaterials “A-Team”, assembled by Ontario Agri-Food Technologies and the Ontario Centres of Excellence is a consortium of leading scientists each with unique skills, expertise and world-class equipment in the development, processing and optimization of biomaterials. They’re the best choice for developing and processing novel and customized biomaterials.

“A-Team” members are eager to work cooperatively with each other and with industry. They are all globally recognized for their scientific expertise. They understand corporate needs - including speed of service, confidentiality and respect for corporate ownership or exclusive access to intellectual property.

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