A sustainable, flax-based composite material from Swiss manufacturer Bcomp has passed another milestone toward greater acceptance in motorsport, following its use in an FIA standard crash test. A Front Impact Absorbing Structure (FIAS) was produced using the material by Italian composites engineering specialist Ycom and tested at the FIA-approved test house Politecnico of Milan, producing results comparable to a traditional carbon-fiber structure.
According to the companies, the structure not only met the required safety standards but also demonstrated the benefits of a material that does not shatter into shards in the way traditional carbon fiber does. However, the natural fiber FIAS prototype, designed as a proof of concept, was around 40% heavier than a carbon-fiber counterpart, but despite this increased mass, its CO2 footprint was some 50% smaller.
“Pushing the adoption of natural fibers requires engineers to integrate it from the first day of the design phase. Mastering the full process is the only way to optimize performance and thus increase the competitiveness of sustainable composite materials,” explained Mario Saccone, Ycom co-founder and composite expert. “We are really happy to collaborate with Bcomp in this development. Motorsport is a forge for new technology development. This must be done fast and without any risk of error.”
Johann Wacht, motorsports manager at Bcomp, added, “Together with Ycom we have proven that the use of natural fibers is not limited to bodywork. In the right application it is a viable alternative for structural parts. By using sustainable composite materials instead of carbon fiber, we can significantly improve the CO2 footprint of high-performance parts and reduce the amount of carbon fiber that goes to landfills.”