A composite material is a material made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components. The individual components remain separate and distinct within the finished structure.
Natural fiber-reinforced composites
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.
Natural fiber-reinforced biobased composites
Fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) is a composite material made of a polymer matrix reinforced with fibres. Within Grace Project biobased composites with high renewable levels will be developed combining hemp natural fibers with bio-based plastic material.