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Natural-fiber-reinforced polymer composites in automotive applications

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  • Low-Cost Composites in Vehicle Manufacture
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In the past decade, natural-fiber composites with thermoplastic and thermoset matrices have been embraced by European car manufacturers and suppliers for door panels, seat backs, headliners, package trays, dashboards, and interior parts. Natural fibers such as kenaf, hemp, flax, jute, and sisal offer such benefits as reductions in weight, cost, and CO2, less reliance on foreign oil sources, and recyclability. However, several major technical considerations must be addressed before the engineering, scientific, and commercial communities gain the confidence to enable wide-scale acceptance, particularly in exterior parts where a Class A surface finish is required. Challenges include the homogenization of the fiber's properties and a full understanding of the degree of polymerization and crystallization, adhesion between the fiber and matrix, moisture repellence, and flame-retardant properties, to name but a few.

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Holbery, J., Houston, D. Natural-fiber-reinforced polymer composites in automotive applications. JOM 58, 80–86 (2006).

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