Los Angeles, United States – A hemp-based fibre material which its developers claim weighs up to 25% lighter than standard injection-molded parts is being used in cars three-quarters of a century Henry Ford unveiled his lightweight hemp car.
Faurecia’s natural fibres for injection process (NAFI) uses in-line compounding to add fibres such as hemp or kenaf to polypropylene to reinforce parts in place of heavier glass.
As reported in Urethanes Technology International magazine, the company began developing the NafiLean process as a potential alternative to compression moulding.
Faurecia’s BioMat is produced from a mixture of hemp fibers and a bio-based matrix called PBS (poly-butylene succinate) – developed with the help of Mitsubishi’s chemical division. It is being used to make interior components like door panels, console inserts, air ducts and instrument panelling.
Industrial hemp – which comes from the same plant as cannabis – was used to make rope for the British Navy from the 17th century. When Ford unveiled his hemp car in 1941 it was reported in the New York Times that the car body was comprised of 70% cellulose fibre and 30% resin binder.
The cellulose fibre consists of 50% southern slash pine fibre, 30% straw, 10% hemp and 10% ramie, the material used by Ancient Egyptians to encase mummies.
Both the NafiLean and BioMat were unveiled at the LA auto show earlier this year.