Cellulose makes this car a sustainable sensation

In recent years, the car industry has increasingly worked on making vehicles more sustainable in terms of fuel type and consumption. A team from Finland has also focused on making the whole car more sustainable by using cellulose as a construction material.

The Biofore concept car improves the sustainability of a car’s lifecycle in many ways. First, by replacing traditionally plastic components with ones made from biomaterials, the overall weight is reduced significantly, which leads to lower fuel consumption.

Furthermore, the parts are recyclable and have a lower ecological footprint in production. All biomaterials used in the car are cellulose fibre-based composite or thermoformable wood material which can be safely recycled or burned. The chassis of the car is made of carbon fibre and the load-bearing parts of metal.

The concept car is designed and manufactured in partnership with Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, and cellulose company UPM, amongst several other partners.

“Sustainability is a major subject globally. We were excited to be able to design and build a vehicle that would demonstrate that already today we have biomaterials that are a real alternative to traditional oil-based materials,“ says Pekka Hautala, Project Director from Metropolia. „During the past four years of building the Biofore concept car, our students have come to see that these biomaterials are of high quality, durable and also offer new design opportunities,”

Next step in renewable biomaterials

Not only does fuel consumption need to be reduced, but automotive production value chains must increase the use of renewable materials. Power must be produced with less emissions and burden on non-renewable resources.

Fibre-based composite materials provide similar safety, durability and quality in automotive end-uses as traditional materials. Therefore, components that are currently made of plastic can often be replaced with renewable biomaterials without any compromises.

Innovative materials by UPM

The Finnish team used four innovations in particular developed by UPM to make the concept car as sustainable as possible. UPM Formi is a recyclable biocomposite manufactured from cellulose fibre and plastics. With UPM Formi, as much as 50% of oil-based non-renewable raw material can be replaced with renewable fibres.

UPM Grada is a thermoformable wood material with unique forming properties. The material enables visually aesthetic, high-quality ecological designs. The Grada technology revitalises the forming of wood with heat and pressure, and opens up totally new design opportunities.

UPM BioVerno is a wood-based renewable diesel, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil fuels. It is suitable for all modern diesel engines – including the 1,2 litre low-emission diesel engine featured in the Biofore Concept Car.

UPM Raflatac’s self-adhesive label materials are used to mark spare parts, as well as in the interior and exterior design of the car. The labels have been manufactured by using the latest adhesive technology and solvent-free production processes.

Get ready to drive

The result is a street legal futuristic citycar with superior sustainabiltiy features such as a cellulose/carbon fiber composite chassis with steel tube front frame. The 1.2 L low-emission diesel engine has a combined fuel consumption 3.4 L per 100km and C02 emissions of 89 g/km.

Image credit: UPM

Andrea Schaller

Founder and editor Go4Ges

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