When we think of eco-friendly car travel, our minds tend to gravitate towards lift shares, hybrid vehicles and fully electric cars. However, long before it was possible to plug in a car rather than pump it full of petrol, manufacturers were using natural fibres to make parts for cars. While wood panelling in luxury cars is obvious to the eye, what many people don’t realise is that natural substances such as sisal and hemp have been used in the manufacture of insulation, engine covers and panelling for decades.


Working towards a greener car industry

Car manufacturers don’t shout about eco innovations in their parts technology in the same way they do when they launch an EV. However, they are always working on ways to make car parts greener, cheaper and more effective and as a result are using this kind of renewable technology more and more. After all, why wouldn’t they when these kinds of materials are not only renewable but safe to manufacture, cheaper and lower density than their man-made alternatives?


Overcoming barriers

Although some natural fibres have the necessary stiffness and strength for use in vehicle parts, natural fibre-reinforced polymer composites have always been prone to breaking, warping and bending due to their low tensile, flexural and impact strength. This vulnerability has meant that despite the materials’ benefits (which also include reduced vehicle mass, which in turn can result in increased fuel efficiency), they have not been reliable.

However, that could be about to change thanks to the humble plantain plant, more usually associated with Southern Hemisphere cuisine. Researchers at the University of Johannesburg have discovered that natural fibres found in plantain can be successfully combined to make a new composite material for vehicle parts that is far stronger than previous versions, making this new substance a viable alternative for some types of car parts. Another great benefit of using natural materials is that they will not rust or corrode like metal alternatives do.


Innovation in the automotive industry

Here at Interflex, we have been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to reducing noise, vibration and harshness in vehicles for over 17 years, so we will be keeping a keen eye on this promising discovery.

To find out more about our sealing solutions for the motor industry, please call us on 01949 861494 or email sales@interflex2000.com.