San Francisco, CA- A new research program in underway, thanks to the engineers based in the AMP. Now, future car owners can find that many of the body panels on their vehicles are produced from biocomposites, which include items such as hemp or cashews, and even nut resin.
The £100,000 research projects have the potential to re-imagine the auto industry by evaluating the potential use of the biocomposite materials within the production of the next generation of vehicles bodywork panels. The potential alternatives currently in use are such items as carbon fiber and epoxy resin systems.
There is a £50,000 grant that is backing this research. The grant comes from Niche Vehicle Network, and the project will be taken on by not only NVN, but Performance Engineered Solutions, TEKS UK Ltd, and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Center. Boeing will also play a part in the research.
Biocomposites refer to materials formed by mixing both resin and natural fibers. This process usually is derived from plants or cellulose. The characteristics of biocomposites are often a replacing petrochemical resin by the vegetable or animal resin. Fibers are replaced by natural fiber such as wood fibers, hemp, flax, or jute.
The reason for the switch is both due to foreseeable necessity and the potential benefits that will result from the research. Such benefits may include the creation of ‘Biocomposite’ materials using natural combinations of bio and synthetic fibers to help support polymer matrices.
The new methods of molding developed for curing of composites can then be developed. The process will lead to reduced energy output for labor, and intensive methods.
Robert Anderson, the Niche Vehicle R&D Program Manager said; “In the global automotive sector, highly creative and dynamic niche businesses are sometimes overlooked, and our funding packages provide important support to R&D projects such as this.”
Former Formula 1 design engineer , Dan Fleetcroft is now design director of Performance Engineered Solutions (PES) Ltd added; “This is an exciting project, both in terms of the untapped potential for biocomposites in the automotive industry, and having the opportunity to work on the project with key strategic partner organizations such as TEKS and the AMRC.
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