Wood-based carbon fibre powers model car

Swedish researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and research groups, Innventia and Swerea, claim to have produced the world's first model car with a roof and battery made from wood-based carbon fibre.

This novel material, made of lignin, is said to be a lightweight and renewable alternative to metals and other composites. Lignin is the second most abundant natural polymer in the world, as it is a constituent of the cell walls of nearly all plants that grow on dry land, surpassed only by cellulose.

Göran Lindbergh, professor of Chemical Engineering at KTH, says that the use of wood lignin as an electrode material came from previous research he did with Innventia. Lignin batteries can be produced from renewable raw materials, in this case the byproduct from paper pulp production.

"The lightness of the material is especially important for electric cars because then batteries last longer," Prof Lindbergh said. "Lignin-based carbon fibre is cheaper than ordinary carbon fibre. Otherwise batteries made with lignin are indistinguishable from ordinary batteries."

Prof Lindbergh added that eventually, carbon fibre bodywork and batteries could be combined to simultaneously manage mechanical loads and store electrical energy.

Although the toy-sized model can’t carry passengers the prototype represents a giant step towards environmentally friendly vehicles that are lightweight, cutting fuel emissions, and recyclable.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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Do you have any comments about this article?
Some idea of scale of the model car would be useful to judge import of this novel idea, plus the specific strength of the lignin based composite vs typical light alloys, steel and conventional Glass/Carbon composite to get an idea of up scalability, ditto the energy density of the lignin based batterycell.

Comment Frank, 16/02/2016

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