Fibre reinforced composite materials offer superior specific mechanical properties in reference to their weight. In the past years, composite materials such as carbon or glass reinforced plastics (CFRP or GFRP) are used increasingly in all sectors of transportation and for industrial or leisure products. The composite consists of a load bearing fibre architecture, usually in the form of a continuous fabric architecture, and an embedding matrix, usually a thermoset such as epoxy. With regard to the energy efficiency and carbon footprint, due to their lightweight nature, these composite materials in general offer interesting properties, if applied in long-term operations. However, the raw materials used for the production of both typical fibre materials and thermoset resins are still based on crude oil, and the refining and processing up to the semi-finished good consume a significant amount of embodied energy. In this study, composites made of glass or flax fibres and resin systems based on condensed tannin and furfuryl alcohol, both extracted or derived from plant tissues, were manufactured using vacuum infusion (VI) and resin transfer moulding (RTM) processes. The results show that mechanical properties close to common fiber/resin combinations like glass fiber and epoxy or phenolic resins can be reached by these materials.

Graphical Abstract

Biocomposites based on plant material