Lightweight and strong hockey sticks have something in common with the bodies of Formula 1 cars. They also share the same properties as windsurfing boards, snowboards, bicycles, and aircraft structures. “The common factor is a composite that is reinforced with carbon fiber,” says Henrik Blycker , CEO of Oxeon.

“The idea was hatched by Professor Nandan Khokar, one of the founders of the company. He realized that it is possible to weave strips of carbon fiber instead of yarns. With the help of the new weaving technique thin broad swaths of armored fabric can be intertwined and linked together. The end result is reminiscent of the surface of a braided basket. Cloth straps make composite materials stiffer and stronger. They are also 20 percent lighter than conventional carbon fiber.”

Unique reinforced fabric reduces climate impact

Lightweight and strong hockey sticks have something in common with the bodies of Formula 1 cars. They also share the same properties as windsurfing boards, snowboards, bicycles, and aircraft structures. “The common factor is a composite that is reinforced with carbon fiber,” says Henrik Blycker , CEO of Oxeon.

“The idea was hatched by Professor Nandan Khokar, one of the founders of the company. He realized that it is possible to weave strips of carbon fiber instead of yarns. With the help of the new weaving technique thin broad swaths of armored fabric can be intertwined and linked together. The end result is reminiscent of the surface of a braided basket. Cloth straps make composite materials stiffer and stronger. They are also 20 percent lighter than conventional carbon fiber.”

Photo: Oxeon AB

Photo: Oxeon AB

“We market the reinforced fabric under the brand TeXtreme ® and see great potential in applications where one wants ultralight and environmentally friendly materials. Energy efficient cars, electric cars and airplanes are a few examples,” concludes Blycker.

Fuel-efficient aircraft

Composite reinforcements are used nowadays extensively in the aerospace industry, ranging from small single-seat airplanes to large commercial aircraft. The materials reduce weight while the fuselage and mechanical properties still perform as they should and fuel consumption is reduced. “According to conservative estimates, it is possible to reduce fuel consumption by 25-30 percent and make annual savings of over EUR 40 million by switching to TeXtreme ® in aircraft bodies in twenty of the world’s largest airlines. Compared with glass fiber reinforcements or metals the potential weight savings is even bigger,” notes Andreas Martsman , vice president and sales manager at Oxeon .

“The reduction in fuel consumption and the reduced carbon dioxide emissions is equivalent to the emissions from one million flights around the world. By investing in a more advanced material, flight companies reduce their costs and impact on the climate.”

World Solar Challenge

During the autumn of 2013, it was time for the World Solar Challenge in Darwin, Australia. The competition is held every two years and involves solar powered vehicles to travel 3,021 km through the Australian wilderness. A series of new safety rules were introduced in 2013, among other things, that the vehicles must have four wheels for maximum stability.

Photo: Oxeon AB

Photo: Oxeon AB

The Nuon Solar Team from the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands attended with their lightweight vehicle Nuna 7. The composite structure had evolved along with the chemical company DSM and Swedish Oxeon. The matrix material consisted of styrene from DSM (Daron ®) in combination with TeXtreme ®. The TeXtreme ® fabric of carbon fiber from Oxeon had an E-modul of 395 GPa, which increased stiffness and improved impact and slide resistance – while the weight could be kept down.

The styrene-free matrix material created an excellent interaction between the polymer and fabric. Another advantage of the styrene-free polymer was that it was possible to apply without special protective equipment, which is very beneficial when building the complex structures that constitute Nuon 7. The end result was successful and after the solar-powered vehicle rolled more 3,000 kilometers, the Nuon Solar teams reached the top of the podium.

“Of course, we are proud that our customers designed winning products where TeXtreme ® has contributed to winning titles in Formula 1 in recent years, won the Tour de France, won the Daytona 500, brought the Stanley Cup playoffs in hockey and the World Cup finals and won major golf tournaments. If we can also help with a winning formula for reducing the carbon footprint, it is a good example of a successful combination of business and environmental benefits,” concludes Martsman.

This article was published in April 2014