Sports equipment may be a good application for green composites. Natural fibre based composites have already been employed in snowboards, tennis rackets and bicycle frames. (Picture © mountainpix/Shutterstock.com.)
Sports equipment may be a good application for green composites. Natural fibre based composites have already been employed in snowboards, tennis rackets and bicycle frames. (Picture © mountainpix/Shutterstock.com.)

Abstract

This review provides guidelines for engineers and designers on the appropriate application of green composites.
 

Despite the large number of recent reviews on green composites (defined as biopolymers or bio-derived polymers reinforced with natural fibres), limited investigation has taken place into the most appropriate applications for these materials.

Green composites are regularly referred to as having potential uses in the automotive and construction sector, yet investigation of these applications reveals that they are often an inappropriate match for the unique material attributes of green composites.

This review provides guidelines for engineers and designers on the appropriate application of green composites. A concise summary of the major material attributes of green composites is provided, accompanied by graphical comparisons of their relative properties. From these considerations, a series of complementary application properties are defined: these include applications that have a short life-span and involve limited exposure to moisture.

Conclusions

Green composites have potential for use in a number of applications, but as with all design, one must carefully match the material to the application.

It is hoped that this review will allow engineers and designers to have a better grasp of the most appropriate applications for green composites. It is anticipated that this will lead to the increased application of green composites, ultimately leading to an improvement in the sustainability of our material systems.

Authors

Michael P.M. Dicker, Peter F. Duckworth, Anna B. Baker, Guillaume Francois, Mark K. Hazzard and Paul M. Weaver, Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science (ACCIS), University of Bristol, UK.

Further information 

This paper was published in the Elsevier journal Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, Volume 56, January 2014, Pages 280-289 and can be found on ScienceDirect.com.