In Japan, the use of wood for the production of automobiles is being seriously considered. The material used is a vegetable cellulose-based nanofibre (CNF), a wood-based material with exceptional properties comparable to those of steel, but five times stronger and lighter. This material could give car manufacturers the opportunity to build strong and light cars at the same time, which would allow them to win in several respects, first of all in terms of fuel consumption.
This wood-based material is prepared by a special process in which wood is crushed and boiled in specialty chemicals that remove lignin and hemicellulose. The result is a very condensed but at the same time lightweight and “incredibly strong” material that is much easier to recycle when viewed from the other side.
It can also be “injection molded”: in this way, complex shapes can be created. According to the Ministry of Environment of Japan, the use of this material can be a potential way to reduce the weight of automobiles and thus the consumption and carbon emissions of the environment.
Currently, there are various projects in which various institutes are collaborating with Tokyo University, and some lightweight supercar concepts have already been built that recall the characteristics of supercars in the 1980s.
Already called Nanocellulose Vehicles or NCV, the cars are more than 10% lighter than standard cars, which saves a lot of money. These vehicles are currently being tested, the heads that will be used to test their long-term resistance, and several Japanese car manufacturers, including Toyota, are already showing interest in this capability.
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