Terratek® NFRP Natural Fiber Reinforced Plastic Composites
Natural fiber reinforced plastic composites (NFRPs) are a type of biocomposite using fibers such as hemp, jute, sisal, American Bamboo, and flax, instead of glass or carbon fiber.
NFRPs are an attractive alternative, both in their physical properties, aesthetics, and chemical makeup, plus, they are lighter, quieter, and have a more sustainable life-cycle.
The significance of NFRPs lighter weight is particularly valuable in applications such as furniture and automotive parts. Glass fibers, for example, have densities of approximately 2.6g/cm3 while flax fibers, have a density of 1.5g/cm3, nearly 40% lighter than glass fibers. The difference in weight translates to greater fuel efficiency and lower cumulative energy demand.
NFRPs offer cost savings throughout the life-cycle. These fibers are cheap to grow and the plants convert CO2 to O2. Extracting fibers from these natural materials produces fewer emissions as well as requires less energy to source than other materials, including glass and petroleum.
While they offer competitive stiffness and strength, thanks to their superior acoustic and thermal insulating properties, NFRPs produce damped noise and vibrations making them ideal for automotive and sports components.
NFRPs are expected to be widely adopted by the automotive industry, replacing traditional materials like glass and carbon fibers in a wide variety of components from door and trunk liners to under-floor pans to floor panels. The sporting goods industry is also high on the performance enhancements NFRPs provide in equipment like skis, surfboards, and hockey sticks.
Manufacturing NFRPs is both an art and a science. The good news is, because biocomposites behave similarly to traditional plastics, no expensive equipment overhauls or disruptive modification to manufacturing processes is necessary. NFRPs are viable alternatives for use in traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding and extrusion. In fact, they are suited to lower processing temperatures and faster processing times, which can result in reduced production costs.
Like many of the materials we make here at Green Dot, the potential applications for NFRPs are limited only by the imagination of the designer.