Natural Fibers and Lightweight Materials: Life Cycle Aspects

Start Date: 
May 1, 2013
End Date: 
Aug 31, 2013
Summary: 

This project works to characterize the life cycle aspects of natural fibers such as hemp and kenaf and to develop a tool for evaluating the sustainability of lightweighting materials to better understand Ford's environmental and energy security benefits, to communicate those benefits, and to be proactive if competitors misrepresent them. This project reinforces Ford's leadership in lightweight and bio-based materials. We built a solid scientific foundation for the environmental impacts of our materials choices by generating data and tools that can be used for research and engineering design applications. The main benefit of this project is the ability to support our colleagues in marketing for communicating with customers and defend against external criticisms of our materials and design choices. The data and knowledge benefits of the proposed work are real but difficult to quantify. The results will include a comprehensive report on life cycle aspects such as greenhouse gas emissions and fossil energy uses of bio-based fibers. In addition, a life cycle modeling tool is developed that calculates the fuel savings of vehicles using bio-based and lightweighting materials. It provides information on sustainability of materials and serves as a material selection tool for engineers.

Sponsor: 
Ford Motor Company
Research Areas: