The introduction of plastics containing inorganic fillers and fibers and of plastic composite systems with cross-linkable resins as binders advanced their growth as structural materials in automotive sectors and has progressed from low-performance applications towards more demanding applications. However, conventional composites typically used in these applications consist of 1) petroleum based non-biodegradable thermoset resins such as unsaturated polyesters, vinyl esters or epoxies or 2) thermoplastic polyolefins (such as PP and PE), polyamide, PEEK, and are reinforced with glass fibers.
The fast growing environmental awareness, uncertain petroleum supply and new rules and regulations are forcing the automotive sectors to seek more ecologically friendly materials for their products. Furthermore, end of live vehicles (ELVs) generate 8-9 million tons of plastics waste every year in the European community, which should be managed correctly.
Stringent pressure to increase recycling of plastics in automotive applications in countries across Europe already comes, for instance, from the EC Directive 2000/53/EC, which aims to reuse, recycle and recover 95 wt% of all plastics from vehicles by 2015.
Taking all considerations into account, the “true” solution for automotive industry would be “green composites” consisting of biobased thermoset or thermoplastic resins with natural fibers produced all from renewable resources. Thus, green composites from renewable resources are probably among the most keenly required material of the 21st century and the research of new generation composites with fully renewable concepts in automotive applications is highly required.
The overall aim of this collaborative research focuses on development of biobased thermoset and thermoplastic structural green composites possibly covering many different automotive applications including both interior and exterior parts. The research will is , of course, not limited to use only for automotive parts. Other applications in construction, aircraft, secondary/tertiary packaging, sporting goods, etc. are also possibly targeted.
This research project is a collaboration between the University of Borås and Seoul National University, South Korea