Natural Fibre Composites
100% sustainable and friendly to the environment
By definition, composites are made of two or more different materials combined together in order to become stronger and better. In our case, natural fibres work as reinforcements, providing the required strength and stiffness to the final composite part. For this purpose at Bcomp we use flax, jute and balsa.
The matrix is the another key component in the composite material. Primary function of it is to keep the reinforcements in place and transfer stress between the fibres. It requires significant expertise to rightfully select the resin for the matrix.
Therefore, we’re glad that our engineers gained that experience by doing profound research at our laboratories. Therefore, natural fibres at Bcomp do not only make the composite stronger and better in terms of performance, but also much lighter and less harmful to the environment.
The matrix: thermoplastics vs. thermosets
A main part of our mission at Bcomp is focusing on sustainability and lightweight. Thus we seek to push technologies which involve 100% environmentally friendly materials. The resin as a matrix makes a major contribution to a natural fibre composite. Basically there are two different types of matrixes: thermoplastics and thermosets.
Thermoplastics consist of long molecules, with the molecular structure interconnected by weak secondary bonds. This kind of matrix gets softer when heated, recycling is therefore possible for biodegradable thermoplastics. For example, cellulose-based thermoplastics are made of wood pulp as a waste from sawing or cutting. Polyactide (PLA) is biodegradable as well. However, problems hereby occur with ethical justification if e.g. corn as a base material is used for technologies instead of food production.
The other kind of resin is thermosets. They consist of short molecular chains linked by strong covalend bonds and cross-links between the chains. This makes a thermoset insoluble and it does not melt before degrading when heated, thus recycling is not possible. However, thermosets are stronger than thermoplastics and show better mechanical properties. Latest development of our partner Entropy Resins provides a thermosetting epoxy resin solution, which enables thermoset recycling into liquid thermoplastics. This can later be re-used in composite applications.
Bcomp plays green on the composite market
At Bcomp we follow our mission to play naturally smart. We seek to make our world a better and cleaner place to live. Introducing natural fibres to the composite market gives us the opportunity to spread our high-end technologies from such markets, as summer and winter sports to huge industries like automotive. Backing and support from business partners and universities show us that we are on the right way and natural fibre composites are the key components towards the green revolution. Composites for everyday use are made from locally grown, renewable natural fibres with a recyclable, biodegradable matrix based on cellulose. That is our vision, which we are working on.