Kerry Kirwan of Warwick University (UK) has re-evaluated the use of jute, flax and hemp in composite reinforcement. These materials have been used mainly in electric cars where weight reduction c.f steel or GRP is a virtuous circle, and where, unlike the money-no-object F1 cars, carbon fibre is too expensive. Unfortunately the variability of tensile properties from these natural product prevents them from performing as well as might be expected, so Warwick has been looking at their energy absorbtion properties with applications in crash-structures in mind.
Marta Pascual of DSM Composite Resins (Holland) listed the challenges facing the EU composites industry:
- · Replacement of styrene due to its problems of flammability, toxicity and odour.
- · Replacement of the catalysts used for hardening: cobalt salts and tertiary aromatic amines.
- · Reducing dependence on fossil carbon sources and their price volatility.
One of their key products was in fact that contradiction in terms, the thermostable thermoplastic, an unsaturated polyester resin used in automotive applications (“Palapreg”) and artificial marble (“Synolite”).
Beyone™ (201-A-01) was a 40% renewable, cobalt-free, styrene-free resin used in the manufacture of wind-turbine blades by DSM/Siemens. Coupled with Blucure™ curing technology, it had won the JEC Innovation award (2012).