Making cars requires a lot of raw materials, so it would be nice if some of them came from renewable, environmentally friendly sources. European scientists are turning agricultural waste, which is often discarded, into materials for making cars. The study is part of a three-year Barbara project collaboration between 10 partner groups from Spain, Italy, Sweden and Belgium.
The research team announced this week that some of the research institutes involved have used lemon, pomegranates, broccoli and almond shell waste to make additives to replace existing materials. For example, colorants extracted from pomegranates, lemons, and broccoli plants can be used to color other materials that cannot be colored using synthetic dyes.
In addition, because lemon-derived essential oils both kill bacteria and release pleasant odors, they can be incorporated into items such as sterilizing door handles or cabin deodorant dashboards. On the other hand, crushed almond shells help to mechanically enhance other materials, while also giving them a woody appearance.
In tests conducted so far, researchers have added agricultural waste to polymers and successfully used them in 3D printing of various “improved” automotive parts.
The Barbara project began in 2017 and will be completed in April next year. Among the relevant other industry partners, Fiat will be responsible for the validation of the finished product. Ford also likes to use agricultural waste when it makes vehicles, having previously tried wheat, tomato skin and tequila plant fiber by-products.