Eco-Friendly Auto Parts with Lemon Peel and Flax Fibers

Eco-Friendly Auto Parts with Lemon Peel and Flax Fibers
Eco-Friendly Auto Parts with Lemon Peel and Flax Fibers - A Fiat 500 instrument cluster made of lemon peel, almond peel and pomegranate peel. Credit: BARBARA project, 2020

Farm waste and other natural products can help the automotive and other industries be more environmentally friendly and less harmful. Lemon peel, cornstarch, and almond bark may not come to mind when you think of the automotive or construction industries. But given that Europe is trying to reduce waste from both agriculture and plastic, industries may increasingly rely on these essential materials.

Bioeconomic Studies

The BARBARA project has opened the door to further innovation in the European bioeconomy by producing brand new, high-performance industrial materials from farm waste.

Funded by cooperation between the EU and the private sector, the initiative added agricultural waste such as lemon peel, corn starch, almond peel and pomegranate peel to biopolymers made by living things like plants and used in manufacturing.

As a result, the Aitiip Technology Center in Spain created prototypes to create molds and auto parts using 3D printing.

According to Berta Gonzalvo, Aitiip's research director, who led the three-and-a-half-year experiment, what excites us most is that it's just resources, not leftovers. Automobile and building parts have been successfully certified, proving that a circular economy is viable and helping to reduce environmental impact.

In order to reduce waste as well as carbon dioxide emissions and industrial product safety, the EU encourages the creation of products made from materials of biological origin.

A study in October 2022 found that the EU bioeconomy has been growing for ten years, reaching €2019 trillion in 2.4 and has additional growth potential.

The EU's €2014 billion joint effort to promote research in this area in 3.7 shows that high hopes are placed for bio-based businesses. Then, in 2022, a 2 billion Euro program was launched with various participants, from farmers to academics, to remove market, technology and regulatory barriers to bio-based products.

The EU produces more than 26 million tons of plastic waste and 60 million tons of food waste every year.

According to Gonzalvo, efforts like BARBARA are just the beginning in the development of industrial materials from renewable sources, including garbage.

When BARBARA started in 2017, there was only one biopolymer that could be used for 3D printing. Using a combination of industrial biotechnology, nanotechnology and sophisticated manufacturing technologies, the venture has increased the number of bio-based materials.

He developed new techniques for extracting and using substances such as natural dyes, color-fixing bio-boranes, antimicrobials and essential oils from pomegranate, lemon, almond bark and corn.

Dashboards and doors

Eight materials have been developed by BARBARA that can replace existing plastics, including pomegranate and lemon colour, pomegranate biomordants, lemon scent and almond bark. Different colors, smells, textures and antibacterial qualities emerged from the new materials.

The 11 partners also produced model instrument panel linings, door linings for automobiles and truss connector molds for the construction industry.

They can therefore be used to calibrate the finished product and even add color or fragrance.

While the research has come to an end, respondents are optimistic that the technology will enter the demonstration phase in the next four to five years. This will show the feasibility of mass production.

Gonzalvo claimed that the EU is well positioned to take the lead, as the global biopolymer business is growing at a rate of 6% per year and the European sector is growing at a rate of 30% per year.

He claimed that we are making progress towards a truly circular economy. “Waste is not always waste; it can also be a source.”

The future of research in the field of plastics is similarly promising.

According to the European Commission, only 2020% of plastic waste produced in Europe in 14 was recycled domestically. The fact that the remaining 86% is incinerated, thrown away, dumped or exported underscores the need to create a more sustainable system.

Reducing the environmental impact of plastics is particularly important because their production is expected to increase in the medium term.

Funded by the same public-private partnership as BARBARA, the ECOXY project explored bio-based substitutes for polymers known as "fiber-reinforced thermoset composites" or FRTCs.

FRTCs are tough and lightweight, but not very environmentally friendly. They are not recyclable and, in addition to being derived from fossil fuels, they are often produced from harmful components such as the endocrine disrupting chemical compound bisphenol A.

According to Aratz Genua, a researcher at CIDETEC, a Spanish organization that oversees ECOXY, “Fiber-reinforced composites are increasingly being used, so these bio-based composites should be able to replace them in all areas where they are used.”

A group of 12 research and business partners from all over Europe participated in the project, which was carried out simultaneously with BARBARA.

They started with materials considered recyclable, reshapeable and repairable, or the three Rs. These 3R materials have a drawback, even though they have been patented by CIDETEC.

Although we have improved sustainability, Genua noted that most of the products still come from petroleum, specifically bisphenol A. We had a chance to improve this by using bio-waste to produce bio-based FRTCs, which would make it more sustainable.

The consortium turned to lignin, which is made from plant fibers and wood. Using a bio-based adhesive made from lignin and flax fibers as reinforcement, he created a demonstration like a car's back panel.

Genua continued, “It was really good to develop and produce a demonstrator.” We started with a small amount of materials and showed that they can be used on a medium scale.

Ensuring that the new material had similar qualities to those used at the time was the main challenge.

According to Genua, the bio-based resins showed excellent properties comparable to those derived from fossil fuels. However, there is room to increase the strength of flax fibers.

Use of bio-based carbon fibers

Future studies may likewise examine the use of bio-based carbon fibers derived from lignin.

According to Genua, “We will continue to work on the development and optimization of bio-based 3R resins for a variety of applications.”

For example, the EU-supported project BIO-UPTAKE develops ceiling panels for the building industry.

Genua added that in this case, bio-based carbon fiber will be used as well as flax fiber.

New materials are better for the health of the manufacturing workers who use them in the short term.

In the long run, the environmental benefits will largely come from a reduction in litter.

Source : Techxplore

Günceleme: 24/03/2023 12:16

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