Wood Over Steel? The Future Of Auto Manufacturing
The world of automotive manufacturing could see it’s latest innovation take shape in the form of: wooden cars and car parts. With the industry calling for quick results in weight reduction, a team in Japan is exploring using new materials to manufacture the vehicles themselves. A supreme building material composed of wood pulp aims to squash the steel manufacturers that have dominated the space for years.
The Koyoto University team says the material could reduce the weight of a vehicle up to 80%, all while maintaining the strength of it’s steel counterparts. It’s been noted by the U.S. Department of Energy that a mere 10% in weight reduction would increase fuel economy by 8%. So it’s safe to assume auto manufacturers would be chomping at the bit to impress with a vehicle up to 8 times that percentage.
The material is created in a multi-step process perfected by the research team. First, the wood pulp is chemically treated with a range of chemicals developed by the team. They then blend parts of the process byproduct with a plastic, creating the steel rival. At this time the team believes that the material should only be used for “non-performance” or non-engine parts, as it is sensitive to heat.
However, at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, research is being completed on a plastic material that may be able to withstand high temperatures. This provides a possible remedy to the issue of the wood pulp material being heat sensitive. Hopefully these materials can be coupled to create a vehicle that launches us forward in the search for improvement.
With the need for improved emission output and less imprint on our environment, the need for a better plan was realized. We can only hope that the research can be continued and implemented, having great effect on our planet. Necessity is the mother of invention, and this is only proved time and again. Now that a need is established, it’s clear that a better solution is soon to be realized.