Cars Made From Flax
The French automotive group, PSA, has begun using components made from natural materials. PSA makes Citroens and Peugeots.
The bio-car plan has three elements:
- the use of bio-polymers, recycled materials and natural fibers.
In fact the inner door panels are made up of 50% flax, and side mirror mountings and radiator caps contain hemp instead of glass fiber. Plastic bottles and bottle caps are ground up and added to small proportions of glass fiber to produce windshield wipers and mudflaps. The tights worn by women are usable for reprocessing and blending with glass fiber to make non-structural hard plastic parts under the hood.
What are bio-polymers?
Bio-polymers are polymers that are produced by living organisms. This includes DNA and RNA, proteins and peptides, and cellulose and starch. Bio-polymers have been around billions of years longer than synthetic polymers like plastics.
All this falls under the automaker's "Green Materials Plan" set up in 2008. The objective is to implement a six-fold increase in natural and renewable materials used in all vehicles by the year 2015. The plan will bring about a marked reduction in cost savings as well as in reducing energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, and go a long way towards the conservation of non-renewable resources.
Surprise! This was done in the USA over 100 years ago!
PSA wants to replace plastics made from oil. Surprisingly, the introduction of materials made without mineral oil was done here in the USA on Model T Ford cars between 1908 and 1927. Some parts of the car were made from soya polymers. Henry Ford demonstrated how strong the material was on a prototype car by taking a sledge hammer to it - leaving the car unscathed - but the production plans were scrapped.
Why Use Hemp?
Hemp is already abundant in France. It is cheap and grows without pesticides and fertilizers. In fact, hemp was once a major crop in the USA. George Washington used enslaved African people to grow hemp (See link below).
Hemp is hemp is hemp?
What kind of hemp? According the natural-fiber specialist at PSA, the hemp grown for this purpose is not the same strain of hemp that is grown as marijuana. The natural fiber specialist at PSA points out that it would take about two tons of the material used for cars to make a joint.
For information about legal hemp and other "green living" ideas, please see links below:
Early Hemp Farms
- Hemp Growing Was Once Required By Law in the US
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