Vaidyanathan, H., Murty, P., and Eswara, S., "Hybrid Natural Fiber Composites Molded Auto-Body Panels/ Skins (Hybrid NFPC): Processing, Characterization & Modeling," SAE Technical Paper 2011-01-0219, 2011, doi:10.4271/2011-01-0219.
Auto industry faces twin problems of pollution and exorbitant rise in petroleum prices. These two problems are best addressed by reducing the weight of the body structure. Under the current technology reduction in weight of an automobile is accomplished by replacing metal with synthetic composites. Reduced weight of the body structure economizes on fuel consumption but this method does not solve the problem of containing pollution because synthetic fibers are used. However, the authors in this paper suggest the use of Hybrid Composites which substantially reduces body weight of an automobile and simultaneously addresses the pollution problem. This is done by substituting natural fibers for synthetic fibers. From an engineering stand point Natural Fibers in the form of Banana Fibers, Sisal, Jute, Coir could prove to be potential competitors to synthetic fibers currently used in polymer composites such as E-Glass, S-Glass, Basalt, Carbon/ Graphite Fibers, and KEVLAR-49. Studies conducted by the authors show that natural fibers in comparison to synthetic fibers for the same strength have very low specific weights. The only disadvantage with natural fibers is that they are not available in continuous lengths. In spite of this shortcoming natural Fibers have high sp. strength to build hybrid engineering Composite materials. Characteristics of natural fibers include low specific weight, abundant availability, superior specific strength, superior rigidity per unit weight, and low cost of production making them the best choice for alternative engineering fibers for Polymer Composites. In this paper the authors present a scheme for the construction of Hybrid natural fiber polymer composites (H-NFPC) sandwich molding system that would form the basic Technology of composite molded auto body panels/skins. The proposed construction would have a Central CORE plus Two outer Skins. The construction of Central CORE is the major factor that determines the final properties of the composite material and its cost of manufacture. The High-Strength Fiber “Skins” could be either Glass Fiber or Glass fiber hybridized with Carbon fiber system. Design, development and manufacturing technology of such novel composites using indigenous supply of raw materials is presented. The above technology uses naturally cultivated agricultural produce such as banana trees and coconut trees which have large components of fibers in them. In this manner large volumes of agricultural wastes such as discarded banana, coconut or palm plantations can be converted into specially engineered structural systems which in turn reduce pollution.