The CARBIO project is developing automotive structures with reduced weight, cost, environmental impact and improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) by the incorporation of novel flax-bioepoxy composites into carbon fibre components.
Carbon fibre is exceptionally light and strong and can increase the performance and fuel efficiency of vehicles. However, the adoption of carbon fibre-epoxy composites in the volume automotive industry presents challenges including those of cost, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) and environmental impact.
Flax Fibre & Bioresin
Flax is a natural fibre from the stem of the flax plant. It is lighter, cheaper and more sustainable than carbon fibre, and has excellent acoustic and vibration damping properties. Flax fibres can be bonded with epoxy resin, but bioresins from natural oils such as cashew nut shell liquid are tougher, less harmful and renewable.
By replacing some of the carbon in a laminate with flax, hybrid structures can be created with lower weight, cost, NVH and environmental impact. Relative to carbon fibre, a 50/50 carbon/flax hybrid composite has 15% lower cost, 7% lower weight, 58% higher vibration damping and equal bending stiffness.
Applications of this technology include automotive body panels, secondary structures and decorative trim parts. The technology could also be of advantage to the sports & leisure sector (racquets, bike frames, hockey sticks, skis etc.) and marine sectors (bulkheads, doors etc.).