Hemp fiber-reinforced composites are currently only used in the automotive sector due to their superior performance, but at higher costs than conventional glass fibers. To enhance the market for natural fiber-reinforced composites to mass-markets, the costs of the fibers need to be reduced. Currently, hemp is mainly cultivated on good arable land, where production is quite expensive. Cost reduction could be achieved by extending hemp production to low-productive or contaminated land.
Another option is to replace hemp fibers by cheaper miscanthus fibers. Performance of miscanthus fibers is less good compared to hemp, but at the same time there is a very promising potential for cost reductions. This will open up mass-markets, which are currently dominated by glass-fiber products, for biobased products, since here the price is the main criteria. For this reason it is crucial to demonstrate that miscanthus fibers can be provided at similar costs and performance than glass fibers.
In GRACE, Addiplast developed two new composite materials containing 30% miscanthus fibers for dashboard elements in the automotive sector. Both novel materials are meanwhile listed in the car automotive panel and for this reason available on the market. Starting with the first car model in 2023, the commercialisation plan foresees an increasing number of car models being equipped with dashboard elements using these materials in the following years.