Lightweight Garage # 25 Bioconcept Car @ FNR

The vehicle

Behind this gate is a Porsche from the world of racing. Lightweight design is a common means of optimising the vehicle in this field. Glass and/or carbon fibre-reinforced plastics are often used. The Bioconcept Car takes a different approach. Plastics reinforced with natural fibre material are used for the bonnet, the doors and the rear spoiler. The Porsche Cayman GT4 with over 400 hp and a top speed of 275 km/h serves as the basis. The 1,300 kg Porsche has to compete in its class against vehicles such as the KTM X-Bow GT4 or McLaren 570S GT4, while BMW and Mercedes-AMG are also used in the GT4.

©FNR/elfimages, Bioconcept-Car Porsche GT4 with a body made of biocomposites. A project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

The Technology

Fibre-reinforced plastics have been used in the automotive industry for decades. Natural fibres have also been used in vehicles such as Ford's Soybean Car. In racing, such materials have not been used at all, if at all, which gives the Bioconcept Car a unique selling point. The flax fibres used in the car have a high lightweight potential due to their low density of max. 1.5 g/cm³; compared to glass fibres, they are about half as light. Flax fibres can also be compared to glass fibres in terms of mechanical properties, as the fibres have a similar modulus of elasticity. However, the tensile strength differs significantly, with flax fibre only withstanding about half the tension.

Due to the increasing interest in sustainable and environmentally friendly products, more and more CO2 neutral or CO2 reduced products have to be developed. The use of natural fibres makes it possible to bind CO2 in products and, with the additional use of biodegradable matrix material, to guarantee complete degradability. Thus, the natural fibre composite material used is becoming increasingly important. This vehicle shows that the idea of sustainability also plays a role in racing. Perhaps one day, a racing series consisting of vehicles with biodegradable body elements will even be possible.

The Lightweighting Effect

The low density of flax fibre and other natural fibres makes them suitable for lightweight construction applications. Unfortunately, however, natural fibres have much worse mechanical properties than the current favourite, carbon fibre. The idea of sustainability is currently still the driving force behind the use of natural fibres.

©FNR/Toni Alex, Rear view of the Porsche GT4 bioconcept car with a body made of biocomposites. A project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

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