Biocomposites

 

The use of fibre-reinforced plastic composites in the automotive industry has grown significantly in recent years because of their low weight, design flexibility and corrosion resistance. These however have significant emoddied and end-of-life environmental impacts.


Biocomposites

Westfield Technology group are currently working on a 2 year Research and Development project, which is specifically looking at the manufacturing of sustainable, high-performance biocomposites for lightweight vehicles.

Working with NetComposites Ltd., University of East Anglia (UEA), Element Materials Technology and the Adapt Low-Carbon Group, Westfield Technology Group hope to develop the chemical modification of cellulose fibres to increase the mechanical performance of biocomposite materials.

Currently, such materials are used only in car interiors. Overcoming the limits to the durability of biocomposites will open up a vast market, with 80% of vehicle components capable of being manufactured in the UK; lowering the environmental footprint of the product – from resource depletion to climate change impact.

Resistance and cost-effectiveness

Using biocomposites in place of ‘traditional’ materials (glass- or carbon-fibre composites) will help to reduce the mass of a vehicle, thereby improving its fuel-economy,and reducing CO2 emissions, as well as lowering the emboddied CO2 equivilent or carbon footprint of the material.
The project could also provide a model for a circular economy with raw materials being sourced from waste, or agricultural by-products, to be reused, recycled or composted at end-of-life. This will also reduce resource depletion and our dependence on petrochemical derived materials.