According to SABIC, curauá fibres offer the environmental advantages of being renewable, biodegradable and require less energy to produce glass fibres. In addition SABIC maintain that curauá fibres are lighter in weight than glass fibres and are not as abrasive as glass or mineral reinforcements, thereby reducing wear and tear on moulding machinery.
Curauá (Ananas erectifolius) is a plant from Bromeliad (pineapple) family, cultivated in the Brazilian Amazon region. Curauá fibres have been traditionally used by the indigenous population for hammocks, fishing lines, ropes and nets.
The leaves from curauá plant reach up to 5 m in length and 4 cm in width and are straight and flat. When the plant is about 8 months old, its leaves yield about 8% fibre on a dry weight basis. Once the fibre has been extracted, the residue can be used as animal food or as organic fertiliser.
The fibres have a higher mechanical strength than other natural fibres such as sisal, jute and flax. Plastic composites made using polyamide (PA) 6 and curauá fibre exhibit similar mechanical properties to mineral filled composites and only about a 20% reduction in mechanical properties when compared to glass filled products. On a density basis, curauá filled products have a higher specific tensile strength and modulus than mineral filled composites.
One of the first users for LNP Thermocomp PX07444 is the Brazilian company Pematec which is using the compound to mould the frame and bracket for an automotive sun visor.
SABIC Innovative Plastics is a leading supplier of engineered thermoplastics with operations in more than 25 countries and over 9500 employees.