A new bio-composite material made from date palm fiber biomass could be used to produce sustainable, lightweight and low-cost parts for the automobile and marine industries.
A team of researchers from the UK has developed a date palm fiber polycaprolactone composite that is completely biodegradable, renewable,sustainable and recyclable, in contrast to synthetic composite materials reinforced by glass and carbon fibers. The team tested the mechanical properties of the material and found that it achieved better low-velocity impact resistance than traditional man-made composites.
The idea would be to use the material in non-structural auto parts such as car bumpers and door linings. The result would be to reduce the weight of vehicles, contributing to less fuel consumption and lower emissions. The new material can be produced using less energy than glass and carbon fibers and is biodegradable and therefore easier to recycle.
Date palm fibers are one of the most available natural fibers in many parts of the world. The trees produce a large quantity of agricultural waste, which is mostly burned or land-filled,causing serious environmental problems.
Convincing industry to use a new class of materials such as natural-fiber reinforced composites is challenging. First it is necessary to obtain consistent,reliable properties from the material. Then the industries need to work closely with the developers to test the materials and convince themselves of the viability of using them. The team, led by researchers at the University of Portsmouth, has been working with industry to test the viability of parts made from a variety of other sustainable materials as well including flax, hemp, and jute. Someday, our cars may have bumpers made from agricultural waste.
Photo, posted October 27, 2017, courtesy of David Stanley via Flickr.