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Composites Evolution will launch a range of new materials and prepregs at JEC Europe, Porte de Versailles, Paris, France, on the 12 – 14 March 2013.
The range of Biotex Jute fabrics, initially including plain weave and 2×2 twill, will offer the benefits of premium natural fibres such as flax – including a favourable stiffness-to-weight ratio – but at a price that rivals glass fibre.
Biotex Jute fabrics can reduce the weight and environmental impact of composite parts, whilst offering desirable thermal and acoustic insulation and vibration damping properties.
Jute fibres are extracted from the bark of jute plants, which are annually renewable and fast-growing, and the processes used to refine the fibres have low environmental impact. Jute can also be recycled at the end of its life.
Being a low cost, lightweight and environmentally friendly alternative to glass fibre, Biotex Jute can be used in a wide range of applications including automotive, mass transport, marine, construction, industrial products and sports goods.
Dr. Brendon Weager, Managing Director at Composites Evolution, commented “The composites sector is keen to use natural fibre reinforcements but, until now, have struggled to justify the cost of switching from glass fibre. We’re really excited to be able to offer a high performance, cost effective natural fibre that is finally able to compete with traditional glass fibre.”
Additionally, Composites Evolution will launch both glass/PFA and flax/PFA bioresin prepregs at the show. PFA (Polyfurfuryl Alcohol) is a thermosetting bioresin derived from hemicellulose crop waste such as sugar cane bagasse and is similar in nature to a phenolic resin. Aside from its environmental credentials, PFA has fire retardant properties equivalent to phenolics, as well as excellent chemical resistance.
Composites Evolution’s PFA high performance bioresin prepregs are based on aligned fabrics, which can be natural flax, glass or carbon, and are the result of over 4 years’ extensive research and development.
The materials offer a combination of light weight, high mechanical properties, excellent fire retardant properties and low environmental impact. The prepregs can be consolidated by vacuum, autoclave or press and are designed for a range of applications in mass transport, aerospace, furniture and construction.
The glass/PFA prepreg systems have been shown to have excellent fire resistance and are able to compete with glass-phenolics. The flax/PFA prepregs are 100% bio-derived, as they are made using Biotex Flax fabrics to provide the levels of performance and processability normally associated with glass reinforced materials. This is the first time that PFA and Biotex have been combined in this way, giving the benefits of Biotex Flax material with a sustainable resin which does not have impact the food supply chain.
According to Dr. Weager, “We are very excited to be able to offer these prepregs commercially, as customers can now specify bioresin composite components that have mechanical properties, fire performance and cost – all equivalent to existing oil-derived composites.”
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