Nowadays, composite materials like glass or carbon fibre reinforced plastics are increasingly used as lightweight materials in many industrial sectors. While characterised by their strength and rigidity these materials come with certain disadvantages such as high energy demands during production, the need for oil as a raw material and poor environmentally friendly disposal opportunities. In recent years alternatives to the traditional glass or carbon fibre reinforced plastics have come into focus through the increased drive towards a more sustainable environment and technologies.
Biocomposites, such as natural fibre reinforced plastics (NFRP) and wood plastic composites (WCP) combine natural fibres from plants and a polymer matrix. Bast fibres from flax, hemp, jute, sisal or kenaf are used as reinforcement as well as recycled wood or by-products from food crops because of their fibre length, toughness and stiffness. Natural fibres have many advantages over synthetic ones: environmental friendly, renewable, biodegradable and recyclable, low costs, etc.. With regards to the matrix used for bio-composites, polymers such as polypropylene and polyethylene have commonly been used due to the limited development of biodegradable polymers. However the launch of naturally-derived polymers such as polylactic acid (PLA) from corn starch offers an interesting prospect of fully bio-based composites.
Notably found in the automotive, construction, and consumer sectors, the form of biocomposites can range from outdoor furniture to interior or exterior panels on cars and boats or industrial goods such as pallets. In the future, however, the demand for environmentally friendly products will inevitably lead to an increased variety of biocomposite materials and products.
On the 22nd of April we would like to invite you to our monthly Open Stadslab and join the discussion about the uses bio-composite materials. Together we will have a look at current applications and the possible future trends for designers, manufacturers and consumers. Please inform us of your attendance through our registration form. We are very much looking forward to seeing you and hope to share a lot of thoughts, ideas and/or experiences with each other!