It's just as rigid, and way cheaper to produce.
Carbon fiber has been a motoring buzzword for a good few years now, and the mass adoption of this material in high-end performance cars has been rapid. The reason manufacturers and tuners alike love this material so much is that it is rigid, strong, and extremely light, which is all very important characteristics when building a performance vehicle. The only problem is that carbon fiber is rather expensive to produce and purchase, limiting its availability to the rest of the motoring market, but some new research shows that another solution might be on the horizon. Swiss company Bcomp has made great strides with flax, a well-known plant that is used in part to produce linen, and its new creation Amplitex is now being adopted by major manufacturers.
Amplitex combines flax fibers and epoxy resin to form an ultra-rigid material. The new material, as with carbon fiber, can be woven in any which way and varies in thickness according to application. Traditionally, lightweight materials used in the car manufacturing process such as carbon fiber have been expensive due to the time and energy taken to produce it. Carbon fiber for example is made at temperatures between 1,000-3,000 degrees Celsius and can't be recycled into carbon fiber fabric. With manufacturers forced to look at their carbon-outputs, producing less CO2 for a product that is just as good or even better is a win-win situation.
According to Bcomp, the use of Amplitex and structural support ribs will cut CO2 emissions by up to 75% when compared to carbon fiber. A closer look reveals some interesting numbers: a square meter of Amplitex and its supporting structural "ribs" will produce 16.9 kg of CO2 per square meter, while the same amount of carbon fiber will produce 45.6kg of CO2 per square meter. The fact that Amplitex makes use of flax that naturally absorbs CO2 in nature is another great benefit, and with a price that is 30 percent cheaper than carbon fiber, Amplitex offers the same stiffness and weight. The material has already been used in motorsports, with the Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 CS MR sporting a full Amplitex body kit and McLaren's F1 car seats were made of the stuff. Bcomp was also commissioned by Polestar to fit out the Precept concept's interior and is planning on going into large-scale production by next year.