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Flax/ carbon hybrid structures that are available at a lower cost and higher impact behavior when compared to carbon fibers have finally been developed.

A UK-based consortium set its sights on developing flax bioepoxy/ carbon fiber composites that offered improved solutions, and as it turns out, the consortium has already managed to come up with a high density material that claims to have better impact behavior, vibration dampening and lower costs when compared to the carbon fiber.

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Led by Composites Evolution, the CARBIO project also involves the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, SHD Composite Materials, Delta Motorsport, Cranfield University and KS Composites.

The project used layers of carbon fiber and flax fiber with equal bending stiffness to all-carbon laminates to produce hybrid composites at a reduced cost, while ensuring that they are more environment-friendly and offer increased shock absorption. Flax fibers are known to be CO2 neural and renewable and they also possess amazing vibration damping properties. Better yet, they are low cost materials. This project was actually designed as a prototype automotive roof. It combined the aesthetic appeal and higher strength of carbon fiber to the vibration dampening and low cost performance of flax.

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#High gravity compounds such as flax/ carbon micro-sandwiches have already been tested as automotive impact sleds and they actually managed to perform. “These fail-safe hybrid crash structures will be of significant interest to automotive and motorsport engineers,” says Brendon Weager, the Technical Director at Composites Evolution. That flax could be used to reduce the vibration and cost of carbon fiber parts was already known, but the performance results have truly come as a surprise.

Another method of solving the problem at hand is to use hybrid fabrics, where flax fibers and carbon fibers are woven with each other to offer unique aesthetics, vibration damping as well as improved performance.

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Tow fabrics made with flax/ carbon hybrids are also available. The higher degree of fiber alignment and attractive aesthetics make these high density materials a superior option, and many are already being tested by different manufacturers in water and snow sports industries.

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