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Swedish research institutes develop fossil-free model car with roof made of carbon fibre

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A research team from Innventia, Swerea and KTH Royal Institute of Technology has developed a model car to demonstrate that lightweight, fuel-efficient cars of the future can be made using biobased materials. The raw material can also be used in batteries, which is said to reduce the use of fossil-based materials and fuel.

The Swedish research institutes Innventia and Swerea are now able to present the first model car with a roof made of a composite using carbon fibre based 100% on softwood lignin.

In cooperation with researchers from KTH, the car has also been equipped with a battery in which lignin-based carbon fibre is used as the electrode material. The car is toy size, a demonstrator manufactured on a small pilot scale, but this is a major step towards realising the vision of new lightweight materials from the forest as part of the future bioeconomy, according to researchers.

Carbon fibre composites are strong and light, with many applications. Today, demand is mainly limited by the high cost. As a result, carbon fibre is currently used primarily in products where performance is the priority.

Lignin is a by-product of paper pulp manufacturing and can be produced cost-effectively. Using lignin could lead to significantly increased access to a raw material that is also biobased. Even ordinary cars and other everyday products could be produced from carbon fibre. Lighter cars lead to lower fuel consumption or longer ranges for electric cars.