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Flax, Polylactic Acid Form New Bio-composite for Auto Applications

Germany’s Lanxess has developed a 100-percent bio-based material made from polylactic acid and flax fabrics. The high-performance Tepex bio-composite plastic targets application in the automotive industry with a composition containing more than 90 percent sustainable raw materials. Tepex can be recycled completely. After its use, the product can be shredded and easily processed into new plastic.

“We have combined fabrics made from the natural flax fibers with bio-based polylactic acid as a matrix material and thereby developed a composite manufactured entirely from natural resources. We are now able to produce it to a level of quality suitable for large-scale production,” explains Stefan Seidel, Head of Tepex Research and Development at Lanxess.

The extremely strong material is also suitable for use in sporting equipment, as well as in the production of automotive interior parts and in electronics for case components. Lanxess produces the composite at its site in Brilon, Germany.

Demonstrator component with polylactic acid matrix and fabric reinforcement based on flax fibers. The component surface features a brownish bio-carbon appearance, which comes from the flax fibers. Image: Lanxess

A new green polyamide to boot

Lanxess has also taken the green route for a new Durethan brand polyamide-6 plastic material that is based 92 percent on sustainable raw materials; the long-term plan is to increase the proportion to 100 percent.

Lanxess uses “green” cyclohexane from sustainable sources such as rapeseed oil or other biomass as raw material in the production of the plastic. Energy company bp supplies the cyclohexane used in the polyamide grade, which is also reinforced with 60 percent by weight of glass fibers recycled from industrial glass waste

In the future, Lanxess will add the Scopeblue designation to its most sustainable products. The brand label marks products that either consist of at least 50 percent circular (recycled or bio-based) raw materials or whose carbon footprint is at least 50 percent lower than the one of conventional products.


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