Two US companies, bioplastics producer Green Dot Bioplastics and tier 1 automotive supplier Mayco International have partnered on the development of a sustainable solution for the trim and scrap fibres produced during Mayco’s manufacture of automotive components.
Together, the two companies have created a natural fibre reinforced plastic composite material using the fibres, removing them from the waste stream and expanding the lifespan of the original materials.
Just last year, Green Dot launched its Terratek NFRP material, a type of biocomposite reinforced with natural fibres such as hemp, jute, sisal, American Bamboo, and flax, rather than glass or carbon fiber.
Using natural fibres offers a number of benefits. NFRPs are lighter than traditional composites reinforced with glass fibres: the latter have densities of approximately 2.6g/cm3 while flax fibers, which have a density of 1.5g/cm3, are nearly 40% lighter. Natural fibres also
offer cost savings throughout the life-cycle. Not only are they inexpensive to grow, extracting fibres from these natural materials produces fewer emissions; moreover, they requires less energy to source than other materials. While providing competitive stiffness and strength, natural fibres have better acoustic and thermal insulating properties, according to Green Dot.
Aware of Green Dot’s expertise and experience in this area, Mayco International approached the company for support in finding a better use of the waste stream from its latest natural fibre composite technologies, said Mayco International Advanced Development Engineer Chris Heikkila.
The two companies both value environmental responsibility, sustainability, and innovation and both are committed to creating products that are ‘environmentally responsible through sustainable, efficient processes’, according to Green Dot Director of Research & Development Mike Parker.
The new material, based on Green Dot’s Terratek NFRP technology, aligns with those values, providing a sustainable alternative to carbon-based and traditional plastics. While they have similar physical properties, aesthetics, and chemical makeup, Terratek NFRP is lighter, which translates to greater fuel efficiency and lower cumulative energy demand, quieter, and, in the case of this collaboration with Mayco International, reclaims fibres that would otherwise be disposed of as waste.
Green Dot will feature the new product at CAMX 2021 in Dallas, October 19-21 at booth K81.