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 have previously worked on a Research and Development project, which looked at the manufacturing of sustainable, high-performance biocomposites for lightweight vehicles.

The project team consisted of Westfield, NetComposites Ltd., University of East Anglia (UEA), Element Materials Technology and the Adapt Low-Carbon Group.

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.