Archive for November, 2014

Natural Fiber Composite Reinforced Scooter

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Every day we find more and more consumer products using natural fiber reinforced composites.  While some products use the natural fiber look to enhance their product design, some products use more traditional modes of design that don’t hint at the substrate underneath.  In other words, you cannot tell by looking at them that they are green.  They are not your “crunchy, granola” products.  Today’s example from Van.Eko falls in this latter category.  It is a beautifully designed, sleek, and European styled scooter, that just happens to be constructed using natural fiber composites.


Their design choices couldn’t be more timely.  According to the website European Linen and Hemp, “By 2015, just like regular cars, motorized conveyances like scooters, electric cars and light vehicles will have to comply with European Directive 2000/53, which requires recycling 85% of end-of-life car components and recovering 95%. In these ecological times, biodegradability and recyclability are becoming priorities that must be taken into account in the design of parts, so flax and hemp fibres will inevitably develop over the short term.”  It appears that with the introduction of the Be.e scooter, Van.Eko will be at the fore-front in offering a product that fully complies with environmental standards.

From the website Plastics, “The so-called Be.e of company Van.Eko is an electric bio-scooter built from natural fiber-reinforced composites. Instead of using glass-fibers as strengthening material the company decided to use fibers from natural, renewable and sustainable sources such as Flax, Hemp, and even synthesized cellulose fibers.

The fiber-reinforced composite is used in a monocoque construction. This means that the exterior of the scooter is a hull shape which is so strong that it also functions as the frame of the scooter. This has many advantages for the assembly procedure but, more importantly for the end user, the exterior panels are so tough and strong that they will need a lot of manhandling before they could be damaged. In fact the company offers a 4 year warrantee on the NFC monocoque.

The funky scooter is fitted with a 4 kW and 100Nm motor placed in the rear wheel, its 1.9kWh battery provides a range of 60km for a top speed of 55kph. A second battery is also available as an option.”

The company website for Van.Eko can be seen here. And a short video of the scooter in action can be seen here:

Plastics Technology Reports: Biomaterials Replace Most Plastics In Concept Car

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014


From a recent post in Plastics Technology by Lilli Manolis Sherman, we learn that students in Finland are learning how to create cars without using very much traditional plastics.  The original post can be seen here.

From PT, “A new concept car jointly developed by Finland’s forest and biomaterials supplier UPM and Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, replaces the majority of parts traditionally made of plastics with high-quality, safe and durable biomaterials, dubbed UPS Formi and UPM Grada.

biofore interior

Designed and manufactured by students from Metropolia, the Biofore Concept Car utilizes UPM Formi biocomposites—cellulose-fiber-reinforced PP and HDPE—for parts such as: front mask, side skirts, dashboard, door panels and interior panels. Designed for injection molding, extrusion and thermoforming production, UPM Formi is described as a durable, high-quality, odorless, non-toxic and uniform-in-quality biocomposite, with up to 50% renewable raw material, that is ideal both for industrial and consumer applications.

Also used is UPM Grada thermoformable wood material in the passenger compartment floor, center console, display panel cover and door panels. The Grada technology revitalizes the forming of wood with heat and pressure, and is said to open up new opportunities for designs not achievable with traditional methods.

biofore door

The vehicle itself runs on UPM’s wood-based renewable diesel UPM BioVerno, which significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels. It is suitable for all diesel engines, including the 1.2-liter low-emission diesel engine featured in the Biofore Concept Car. Thanks to UPM’s biomaterials, the car is approximately 330 lbs lighter than its equivalents, resulting in lower fuel consumption. UPM Raflatac’s self-adhesive label materials (U.S. offices in Dixon, Ill., Mill River, N.C) are used to mark spare parts as well as in the interior and exterior design of the car. All labels used in this car have been manufactured using the latest adhesive technology and solvent-free production processes.”