How can motorsport help tackle climate change?

As motorsport begins to overcome the challenges of racing alongside the threat of COVID-19, there is a much bigger and more long-term threat facing the industry: climate change. Unfortunately, motorsport is per say not particularly eco-friendly. At the same time, there is a great opportunity to leverage the motorsports’ trademark expertise and innovative culture and use it to develop and scale sustainable and energy efficient technologies which can then trickle down into wider society.

McLaren Racing F1 seat - with powerRibs

Motorsport for Sustainable Innovations

On one hand motorsport is the sport most threatened by climate change but on the other, it is the only sport that can tackle climate change directly”, highlights Johann Wacht, Motorsport Manager at Bcomp. “This is the paradox of motorsport from John Glenn, retired EPA Official and Founder of U.S. Governments Green Racing Program.  We as a sport and industry have the power to decide whether motorsport promotes the wasteful use of energy or promotes sustainable innovation.

So how can motorsport achieve the latter? Well, motorsport provides a fantastic platform to showcase technologies and, with the brutal environment of racing pushing components to their limits, motorsport is the perfect proving ground. This is why Bcomp has developed ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ natural fibre composite materials for motorsport applications; to drive sustainable innovation whilst proving the feasibility on the highest level of performance engineering.

Replacing Carbon Fibres with Natural Fibres

Bcomp’s powerRibs™ technology consists of specifically engineered flax fibre yarns that have been woven together into a reinforcement grid. Combined with fabrics such as ampliTex™ they form a 3D grid structure on the b-side of parts, allowing to produce high performance thin-walled shell elements such as bodyworks. This sustainable lightweighting solution adds maximum stiffness at minimal weight and does not splinter under deformation like carbon fibre, improving safety on the racetrack. These benefits make powerRibs™ an ideal solution for race car bodywork and now this technology has transferred to road car interiors.

From Race to Road

“When you have an innovation, manufacturers want to see proof of concept and without proof of concept, there is little opportunity to scale,” highlights Wacht. “Motorsport gives us the opportunity to scale our natural fibre composites from smaller series of ten cars to larger series with a hundred cars. It proves that our materials are easy to scale up and are cost efficient, which shows OEM’s how quickly our materials could be adopted to road car applications, and thereby benefit the wider society.” 

It is not only the opportunity to showcase performance and scalability in motorsports that is helping Bcomp drive sustainable innovation into the automotive sector, but also motorsport’s increasing levels of road relevance. The surface quality of GT categories is now closer to road car standards than ever before. So Bcomp’s powerRibs™ have already been developed to meet the high quality requirements automotive manufacturers expect.

Remaining Agile and Maximising Impact

An additional advantage of working within motorsport is its competitive culture and short go to market times. This demands Bcomp to be agile, innovate quickly and accelerate development.

”Our motorsport customers continue to drive the performance and efficiency of our technologies together with our R&D department and Bcomp as a whole, because race teams work to short deadlines and usually need their parts yesterday,” says Wacht.

“Meeting the demands of motorsports helps us maximise performance, while at the same time proving the concept for serial production. The dynamics of the motorsports industry makes it a very interesting market. We want to play an important role in scaling up sustainable innovations within the sport and transfer them to wider applications in all mobility sectors. We believe that motorsport has recognized the momentum and will use its powerful tools to tackle climate change”, Wacht concludes.

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