STUTTGART, Germany—Porsche recently unveiled its new Bioconcept-Car, built primarily with organic materials and help from researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research (WKI), who have discovered how to reduce component weight by substituting with carbon fibers.
Porsche's 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is the first car in series production to feature body parts made of natural-fiber composite materials. It was developed in the Application Center for Wood Fiber Research HOFZET (which is part of Fraunhofer WKI), along with the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites IfBB of Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts. The Cayman is a lightweight vehicle, weighing only 1,320 kilograms.
Instead of steel, the driver and passenger doors as well as the rear wing were built with a combination of organic fibers. This helped reduce 60% of weight from the vehicle. The composite materials consist of a thermostat polymer matrix system reinforced with organic fibers. This organic fiber mesh was the best candidate being the most readily available and versatile material. It can be easily produced into precise dimensions and parts but still exhibits high tensile strength, even when combined with other conventionally manufactured components.
According to Fraunhofer WKI, these aspects were highly significant prerequisites in order to push through with high-volume production. Other environmental factors were also evaluated such as end-of-life recycling or reuse and scale-up approaches for in-demand parts.
The Cayman has been successfully tested on the Nürburgring last August by Smudo, frontman of German rap group Fantastische Vier, who is also the regular pilot of the Four Motors Bioconcept-Car. He was joined by German Federal Minister for Food and Culture, Julia Klöckner.