Hokuetsu Corp added a small amount of carbon fibers to vulcanized fibers (VFs) reinforced by using cellulose nanofibers (CNF) and realized a composite material whose weight is about 20% less than that of conventional VF.

Hokuetsu Toyo Fibre Co Ltd (Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture), a consolidated subsidiary of Hokuetsu, has already developed a technology to mass-produce the composite material. It is currently customizing the material in accordance with customer needs.

VF is a composite material made by reinforcing micron-size cellulose fibers with nanosized CNFs. The densely-entangled CNFs add tenacity, and the material also features a high heat resistance and high electric insulation property. Moreover, it is biodegradable and expected to be used as an alternative material for plastic.

VF comes in the shape of a sheet or block and can possibly be applied to auto parts, parts and cases of electronic devices and building materials.

Hokuetsu is developing composite materials by combining CNFs with carbon fibers, and the new material is part of the results of the efforts. By adding a small amount of carbon fibers to VF, the company prevented expansion and contraction caused by environment changes and reduced weight while keeping processability and strength.

Examples of products made by (1) using the composite material made by combining CNFs and carbon fibers (left) and (2) stacking vulcanized fibers (right) (source: Hokuetsu)

Original Japanese article