The Benefits of Hemp Fiber Reinforced Polypropylene Composites for the Auto Industry

Hemp Fiber Reinforced Polypropylene as a Replacement for Talc in Automotive Plastics 

Heartland Industries produces hemp-reinforced polypropylene with our plastic additives that can be used in the automotive industry. Whereas most plastic fillers in automotive applications consist of talc or fiberglass, our Imperium industrial hemp fiber is a superior alternative because it’s stronger, lighter, less expensive, and more sustainable (compared to the toxic fillers it replaces).

Using industrial hemp as an additive in plastics allows automotive companies to easily integrate it into existing products, rather than relying on mined and synthetic materials. Automotive companies can reduce costs with industrial hemp biocomposite versus using polypropylene.

The automotive industry uses plastics in most of its applications. It utilizes polypropylene instead of metals due to its lightweight nature. Bumpers, battery cases and trays, drink holders, instrument panels, and door trims are some parts of cars that are made of polypropylene.

A great feature of our Imperium industrial hemp products is that auto companies do not need to change their production or facilities. It can be incorporated directly into the existing vehicle production process, saving weight and money as a great benefit to any automaker.

What is Polypropylene Plastic?

Polypropylene is a thermoplastic that can be molded into different shapes to produce a wide variety of products. Polypropylene is one of the most commonly used thermoplastics in the world with uses ranging from plastic packaging and plastic components in cars as well as in fibers and textiles.

It is popularly used in automotive applications–such as car dashboards, fenders, and other components–for the performance benefits like increased fuel efficiency, payload capacity, and acceleration due to its lighter weight. The weight of metals is ten times the weight of plastics which results in large consumption of fuel during operations. Using plastics in the automotive industry helps make the overall vehicle lighter, increasing fuel efficiency. Other significant characteristics of plastics include durability, corrosion resistance, and thermal resistance.

The Use of Polypropylene Plastics in Other Industries

The aerospace industry also favors the use of plastics because of the high savings in fuel costs due to weight reduction when compared to other products. Some parts of an aircraft that are made of plastics are tray tables, armrests, windows, canopies, and valve components. Moreover, plastic’s good thermal resistance provides adequate protection for the instrument panels of aircraft.

On the other hand, the marine and packaging sectors benefit from the use of plastics because of their durability and ability to withstand drastic conditions.

All of these industries could easily use our industrial hemp without changing their production process. This would allow these industries to have an even lighter, stronger product, that very production is also carbon negative.

The Disadvantages of Using Traditional Fillers in Polypropylene 

The addition of fillers to polypropylene composite adds volume and improves its chemical and mechanical properties. Fillers in polypropylene plastics are used for a variety of features, such as helping a product hold shape and increase strength, among others. Listed below are the commonly used plastic fillers along with their specific purpose of use:

Glass fiber – It enhances mechanical properties.

Talc – A low-cost volume filler.

Calcium carbonate – A low-cost volume filler.

The main drawbacks of these fillers are environmental: they are obtained from mining, an energy-intensive process, which generates pollution. Furthermore, energy used in mining comes from the burning of fossil fuels which accounts for 4% to 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Lastly, talc and calcium carbonate contain asbestos and crystalline silica, respectively, which are both proven to be carcinogenic. Prolonged exposure to them is detrimental to human health.

Advantages of Using Hemp Fiber as a Substitute to Traditional Plastic Fillers

Heartland’s industrial hemp fiber is a carbon-negative material

Every 1 ton of hemp Heartland processed removes 2.85 tons of carbon dioxide. The absorption of carbon dioxide during its growth is greater than the carbon dioxide emissions by the equipment used for its processing and transportation.

Heartland’s industrial hemp fiber is very strong

Hemp is the strongest natural fiber on earth, proving stronger than bamboo and kenaf fibers while maintaining flexibility.

Heartland’s industrial hemp fiber is lightweight

Hemp weighs 80% less than glass fiber, talc, and calcium carbonate. Our Imperium industrial hemp fiber reduces the polypropylene composite weight by 20% to 60%.

In one study, it was found that biocomposites made of hemp and polypropylene have a density of 1.4 g/cm3, whereas a composite of glass fiber and polypropylene has a density of 2.5 g/cm3. Thus, the total weight of the polypropylene composite is reduced by 44% for the same volume. Due to the lower weight of hemp and polypropylene biocomposite, increased fuel efficiency could be attained in automotive applications. As a result, there would be more savings in fuel costs.

Heartland’s industrial hemp fiber is cheaper than polypropylene fillers

The farming scale has improved by an order of magnitude over the last 50 years, making planting and harvesting industrial hemp one of the most cost-efficient input materials. In addition to farming practices, the energy required for the production of hemp is significantly lower compared with mining. Thus, it is cheaper.

As the world’s problem of climate change remains unresolved, continuous efforts are being made to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions. Various industries take innovative steps while considering environmental corporate social responsibility. One example is their move to use hemp as fillers of polypropylene composites instead of traditional ones. This shift to a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable alternative is a huge advancement for the betterment of society.

Next we will discuss the benefits of hemp fiber in polyethylene and how we can decarbonize automotive parts

Join us as we make a world out of hemp. 

Heartland Team