Fribourg, Switzerland… Swiss sustainable lightweighting company Bcomp is excited to announce that Eberspächer, a Tier 1 supplier, has developed bus A/C covers using its natural fibre composite technology. It is a bold push towards the use of more sustainable materials in mass transport applications and closely follows Bcomp’s successful entry into large-scale production of automotive interior parts. The part was exhibited at Busworld Europe 2023, from 7-12 October, as part of the Eberspächer stand 629 – Hall 6.
Eberspächer manufactured innovative prototype panels using Bcomp’s ampliTex™ technical fabric, intending to gauge interest among Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The composite panels use a vynilester resin infusion with an in-mould transparent gelcoat finish. This means that the interesting weave of the flax-based ampliTex™ is visible. The sustainable natural fibre materials used to produce the prototypes will be the same that go into the production covers for interested Eberspächer customers.
If any OEMs or end customer express interest during or after the Busworld event, a rigorous trial phase will follow. Some of these panels will be installed in buses operating in diverse environmental conditions ranging from the extreme climates in winter and summer testing. Successful performance evaluations will pave the way for series approval and full-scale manufacturing.
The collaboration was initiated by an Eberspächer student proof-of-concept project from the Technical School for Wood Technology in Stuttgart, Germany. The challenge was to find an environmentally responsible alternative to glass-fibre-reinforced plastic for bus A/C covers. Flax-based natural fibre composites emerged as the preferred material, of which Bcomp is a global leader.
ampliTex™ is a proprietary technical fabric, made from European-grown flax plants, that is frequently used as a sustainable alternative to carbon fibre and fibreglass. It has been well-proven in body panels for demanding motorsport applications and is quickly finding its way into mass-produced road cars where it can already be found as an optional interior material on the new Volvo Cars EX30. It harnesses the natural properties of flax to produce lightweight high-performance parts with a unique aesthetic, defined by natural beauty. Depending on the application, these renewable material solutions achieve similar or superior stiffness and weight compared to carbon or glass fibre while heavily cutting CO2 emissions.
Paolo Dassi – Marine and Industry Manager at Bcomp, commented: “This project with Eberspächer marks an exciting new chapter in our journey. Mass transport applications like this innovative bus A/C cover reinforce our technologies’ potential to replace conventional materials at scale. It also signals our continued growth and expansion into critical markets. As industries increasingly seek out sustainable materials, we are ready to meet the demand with our flax-based composites that offer lightweighting performance without environmental compromise.”
With approximately 10,700 employees at 80 locations worldwide, the Eberspächer Group is one of the automotive industry’s leading system developers and suppliers. The family business, headquartered in Esslingen am Neckar, stands for innovative solutions in exhaust technology, automotive electronics and thermal management for a broad range of vehicle types. In combustion or hybrid engines and in e-mobility, the components and systems from Eberspächer ensure greater comfort, higher safety and a clean environment. Eberspächer is paving the way for future technologies such as mobile and stationary fuel cell applications, synthetic fuels as well as the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. In 2022, the Group generated revenue of around 6.4 billion euros. Net revenue adjusted for transitory items amounted to 2.7 billion euros.
More information: www.eberspaecher.com/