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A model car with roof made of a carbon composite based 100% on softwood lignin

News International-French

10 Feb 2016

A research team from Innventia, Swerea and KTH Royal Institute of Technology is demonstrating by means of a model car, that raw material from Swedish forests can also be used in batteries, which reduces the use of fossil-based materials and fuel.

The Swedish research institutes Innventia and Swerea are able to present the first model car with a roof made of a composite using carbon fibre based 100 percent on softwood lignin. In cooperation with researchers from KTH, the car has also been equipped with a battery in which lignin-based carbon fibre is used as the electrode material. The car is toy size, a demonstrator manufactured on a small pilot scale, but this is a major step towards realising the vision of new lightweight materials from the forest as part of the future bioeconomy.

Carbon fibre composites are strong and light, with many applications. Today, demand is mainly limited by the high cost. As a result, carbon fibre is currently used primarily in products where performance is the priority. Lignin is a by-product of paper pulp manufacturing and can be produced cost-effectively. Using lignin would lead to significantly increased access to a raw material that is also biobased. Even ‘ordinary’ cars and other everyday products could be produced from carbon fibre. Lighter cars lead to lower fuel consumption or longer ranges for electric cars.

In 2014, Innventia and Swerea launched a plan for how Swedish lignin-based carbon fibre could be available within a ten-year period. The next step according to researchers is a process line on a pilot scale with continuous production in order to identify the challenges that always arise when scaling up. In addition, larger quantities of carbon fibre are required to evaluate composites and composite components.

The work has been carried out as part of the BioInnovation strategic innovation programme, a joint venture on the part of VINNOVA, Formas and the Swedish Energy Agency.

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