The high stiffness and low density of natural fibers makes them a great choice for transportation applications. In any vehicle, the amount of energy consumed is directly related to the weight of the vehicle. Reducing weight is one of the fastest ways to improve fuel economy. This not only applies to automobiles but mass transit vehicles like trains, buses and even airplanes.
To better understand the potential for natural fibers in the U.S. automotive industry, it is helpful to consider this industry’s European counterpart, which has adopted natural fibers much more extensively. The average motor vehicle produced in Europe in 2012 contained approximately 4lbs. of non-wood natural fibers. If this average had been the same in U.S. production, then approximately 21,594 tons (47.5M lb) of natural fibers would have been used in motor vehicles in 2014. Bio-materials can be used in variety of places such as Dashboards, door panels, trunk liners, bumpers.
Until recently, natural fiber composites were considered unacceptable for use in large commercial aircraft interiors due to their inability to meet strict requirements for flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) performance. However, research in technologies to meet these requirements has been successfully conducted in recent years by both Boeing and Airbus.
Some benefits of using bio-materials in transportation are;
- Reduce weight
- Improved aesthetics
- End of Life benefits