Agri-waste may find its way into better automotive materials
It takes a lot of raw material to manufacture a car, so if some of that material comes from renewable, eco-friendly sources … well, so much the better. European scientists are going one step further, utilizing agricultural waste that would otherwise be discarded.
The research is part of the three-year Barbara Project, a collaboration between 10 partner groups located in Spain, Italy, Sweden and Belgium. This week, it was announced that some of the institutes involved have used lemon, pomegranate, broccoli and almond shell waste to create additives that could take the place of existing materials.
Colorants extracted from pomegranate, lemon and broccoli plants, for instance, can be used to color other materials in hues not possible using synthetic dyes.
Additionally, because lemon-derived essential oils both kill bacteria and release a pleasant scent, they could be incorporated into things like germ-killing door handles, or cabin-deodorizing dashboards. Crushed almond shells, on the other hand, help to mechanically strengthen other materials, while also giving those substances a wood-like look.
In tests conducted so far, the agri-waste materials were added to polymers which were then successfully used to 3D-print a variety of "improved" automobile parts.
The Barbara Project began in 2017, and will end next April. Among other industry partners involved, Fiat will be responsible for validation of the finished products. Ford is also very much into the use of agricultural waste in the construction of its vehicles, having previously experimented with wheat straw, tomato peels, and tequila fibers.