Explorative Study on the Use of Curauá Reinforced Polypropylene Composites for the Automotive Industry
The automotive industry is under a growing volume of regulations regarding environmental impact and component recycling. Nowadays, glass fiber-based composites are commodities in the automotive industry, but show limitations when recycled. Thus, attention is being devoted to alternative reinforcements like natural fibers. Curau&aacute; (Curacao, Ananas erectifolius) is reported in the literature as a promising source of natural fiber prone to be used as composite reinforcement. Nonetheless, one important challenge is to obtain properly dispersed materials, especially when the percentages of reinforcements are higher than 30 wt %. In this work, composite materials with curau&aacute; fiber contents ranging from 20 wt % to 50 wt % showed a linear positive evolution of its tensile strength and Young&rsquo;s modulus against reinforcement content. This is an indication of good reinforcement dispersion and of favorable stress transfer at the fiber-matrix interphase. A car door handle was used as a test case to assess the suitability of curau&aacute;-based composites to replace glass fiber-reinforced composites. The mechanical analysis and a preliminary lifecycle analysis are performed to prove such ability.