New wood polymer composite to replace plastic in cars

New wood polymer composite to replace plastic in cars

New wood polymer composite to replace plastic in cars
The Institute of Wood Science and Technology (IWST) has come out with a new wood polymer composite (WPC) that could replace plastic used in car manufacturing.

Researchers at the Bengaluru-based institute say this would not only reduce cost but also improve the mileage of cars as WPC is much lighter than plastic. WPC is a hybrid material produced from natural wood and plastic fibre.

“We have given an alternative to plastic by mixing it with bamboo. The tray is simple. It is made of WPC, which is 40% plastic and 60% wood,” said Surendra Kumar, director, IWST. The institute has patented the invention and could go for commercial launch anytime soon.

Since the composition of the wood keeps changing, it does not need regular maintenance or polishing, which is otherwise necessary for wood items. WPC makes the product light but strong.

There is no need to use logs to create the product; even waste logs and remaining wooden particles can be used in making these items. This ensures there is no wastage, which makes it completely eco-friendly, Kumar said.

He was speaking to DH on the sidelines of the day-long Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE)-Regional Research Conference on ‘Identification of Research Needs for Southern States’ held at the IWST.

“Presently, automobile companies import items from Europe, which increases the cost. But we are offering a solution with locally available materials. Talks are on with many automobile companies and they have shown interest. They understand fuel and cost efficiency,” Kumar said.

The advantage of WPC items is that they do not heat up and have no toxic substances like plastic, which has health hazards. These items are durable with a long shelf life, he said.

A team of researchers took five months to design WPC. It has been patented and included in the Gazette of India. The IWST has also applied for patent on WPC plates which are microwave oven friendly. They are ideal for children as they are non-toxic and non-breakable. IWST has also created pen holders and hangers of the same material. The institute is gradually trying to reduce the use of plastic, Kumar said.

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