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Development of thermoplastic biocomposites (BIOMAT) - LK0807

Natural fibres offer many technical and environmental attractions as reinforcements in polymeric composites. They are of high strength and stiffness for low density materials, have low raw material and energy costs for manufacture, are free of irritation to skin, and have low abrasion giving reduced wear and hence improved life of processing equipment. Particularly important is their potential for very low environmental impact. This is especially so when grown and extracted using environmentally sensitive methods, because of their low energy requirements during manufacture, and relative ease of recycling, either by regranulation or by clean incineration with a favourable energy balance.

These benefits mean that the potential market for natural fibre reinforcement is very large. The automotive industry in particular is keen to exploit their cost, weight and environmental benefits, and would like to be able to use them in many more mechanically demanding areas. Consequently it is prepared to invest toward developing viable products. They would also be attractive in a wide variety of other industrial and domestic injection moulded goods, and the construction industry has been identified as a potential major market (1)

This project will address the barriers that remain over harnessing the full potential of natural fibres for reinforcing injection moulded thermoplastics. This will be achieved using several innovative physical and chemical treatments and a unique set of studies to characterise the interplay of factors affecting professing and properties at all stages from fibre extraction to component design and manufacture.

Various forms of flax and hemp fibre will be supplied by Hemcore and BioFibre (with coppiced willow processed by The BioComposites Centre, Bangor Univeristy0, and material properties and processing characterisation and development will be conducted by Bangor, QINETIQ and AE1 Compounds Ltd. Injection moulding studies will be by QINETIQ and Birkby Plastics Ltd.

The processing knowledge will be used to design and manufacture a large and highly stressed automotive demonstrator component, which will be subjected by For and Vistenon to in-service tests, and running trials in a production car. The design studies and stress analysis will be by Ingenuity and Premier Engineering Solutions in collaboration with the other consortium partners.
Project Documents
• Executive Summary : Development of thermoplastic biocomposites (BIOMAT)   (881k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2007

Cost: £545,955
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Birkbys Plastic Ltd, AEI Compounds Ltd, Scittexx Ltd, Qinetiq Ltd, Clariant UK, Ford of Britain, Fibre Developments Ltd, Visteon Automotive Systems, Biofibre Ltd, University - Bangor, Engenuity Ltd, Hemcore Ltd
Arable Farming              
Fields of Study
Non-Food Crops