The Combine project aims to develop high performance bio-derived composites for structural applications by using innovative combinations of natural fibres and bio-plastics.
Plant fibres have been used for millennia in applications such as clothing, building materials and basket weaving; however synthetic equivalents have replaced these materials in many cases and are used for more structural purposes. To date, natural fibres have been used with polymers to form lightweight injection moulded components for the automotive industry, but the fibres are short and randomly oriented so mechanical properties are relatively poor.
Bio-polymers are a relatively new material and little is known about their mechanical behaviour when mixed with bio-fibres. The Combine project will therefore be covering new ground in terms of developing materials which are fabricated from entirely renewable sources.
The technology will be demonstrated by manufacturing and testing 3 case study components – a marine bar top lid, a marine wheelhouse roof and a mobile baby incubator. The project started in November 2006 and will take 30 months to complete. The total value of the project is £1,000,000.
This project is co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board's Collaborative Research and Development programme, following an open competition. The Technology Strategy Board is an executive body established by the Government to drive innovation. It promotes and invests in research, development and the exploitation of science, technology and new ideas for the benefit of business - increasing sustainable economic growth in the UK and improving quality of life. For more information visit www.innovateuk.org.