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A natural fiber crash box for motorsport

News International-French

20 Oct 2020

Ycom and Bcomp have announced the successful crash-test of a natural fibre Front Impact Absorbing Structure (FIAS).

A natural fiber crash box for motorsport - Amplitex & Poweribs

Designed by advanced technologies expert Ycom and using high performance ampliTex flax fibers from sustainable lightweighting specialist Bcomp, it proves that natural fibers can play an important role for structural- and safety critical parts.

The crash box is designed to optimize the performance of the ampliTex natural fiber reinforcements and was tested at the FIA-approved test house of Politecnico of Milan, producing results in line with a traditional carbon-fiber structure. The material not only shows the desired, even crash be-haviour required from a safety perspective, but also eradicates the danger of sharp splintering. Furthermore, natural fiber composites waste can be used for thermal energy recovery. 

For the motorsports industry, this proves that high performance natural fibers can be used for significantly wider applications than previously thought, reducing the environmental impact, and enabling technology transfer to mobility. The natural fiber FIAS prototype designed as a proof of concept is currently ca. 40% heavier than its carbon-fiber counterpart but still enables a CO2 reduction of ap-proximately 50% on the composite side. 

A natural fiber crash box for motorsport - Before crash test

Mario Saccone, Ycom co-founder and composite expert, says:

“Pushing the adoption of natural fibers requires engineers to integrate it from the first day of the de-sign phase. Mastering the full process is the only way to optimize performance and thus increase the competitiveness of sustainable composite materials. We are really happy to collaborate with Bcomp in this development. Motorsport is a forge for new technology development. This must be done fast and without any risk of error. Ycom has the right experience to embark on complex R&D projects, with the flexibility of the motorsport approach to accelerate product development.”

As industry and governments continue the fight against climate change, motorsport is playing a crucial role as a test bed for sustainable technologies. The motorsport industry enables products to be brought to market and tested in extremely short time frames and then, once proven, these technologies can be applied to high volume vertical markets including automotive, aerospace, and marine.

A natural fiber crash box for motorsport - After crash

Johann Wacht, Motorsports manager at Bcomp, says:

“This innovation offers new and existing racing series the opportunity to take sustainability to a whole new level. Together with Ycom we have proven that the use of natural fibers is not limited to bodywork. In the right application it is a vi-able alternative for structural parts. By using sustainable composite materials instead of carbon fiber, we can significantly improve the CO2 footprint of high-performance parts and reduce the amount of carbon fiber that goes to landfills. As Ycom has shown, you can do this without compromising safety – actually, without sharp debris, safety can even be improved. By combining our sustainable technologies with the exceptional expert knowledge of Ycom we have shown that natural fibers have the potential to be used for structural parts as well as bodywork.”

A natural fiber crash box for motorsport - Flax