The Sustainable Composite Car Racing Team

The CQS Group Racing Team is a student project by Industrial Engineering students from the University of Leuven. The goal of the project is to build a sustainable car for a sustainable future. One of the key subjects of the design of the car is the choice of materials, in which weight, as well as the properties of the material, have a big influence on the impact of the car on its environment.

Parts of the body of the car are manufactured from a biodegradable composite, made from flax fibres. Flax fibre composites offer specific mechanical properties, comparable to the properties of glass fibre composites. Other advantages of these composites are the low cost. The downside that has been found to be the increased weight in comparison with other composites frequently used in cars or racecars, such as glass fibre or carbon fibre composites. But of course the biggest advantage of the flax fibre materials or other biodegradable composites is that these materials are nearly climate neutral materials, meaning that its impact on climate change is negligible. The combination of the flax fibres with a bio resin completes its biodegradable properties.

Besides being a sustainable material, the processing in comparison to other glass fibre or carbon fibre materials is also a big bonus, in which no safety risks are present. The parts of the body are vacuum injection moulded to make it as lightweight as possible. A surplus of this composite is the sound insulation properties, which make it a good alternative material to be used for the production of the hood, which will lower the sound pollution produced by cars.

In today’s mobile industry, flax fibre materials already conceal parts in the car. The team hopes to show that these parts can be used for other body parts, which might become the future.