Porsche Motorsports premiered a partnership with technology leader Bcomp and Four Motors racing team to run full natural fibre bodywork at the legendary Nürburgring 24h race last weekend. Thanks to the powerRibs technology, the natural fibre parts cannot only match the performance of traditional monolithic carbon fibres, but also offer additional key benefits when it comes to sustainability (75% lower CO2 footprint and viable end of life options), cost reduction (up to 30% lower material cost) and safety (ductile crash behaviour without sharp shattering).
This is not the first time Porsche has led the way on sustainability. In 2019 Porsche Motorsport launched the Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 CS with natural fibre doors and rear wing. It was the first case of replacing carbon fibres with natural fibres in serial production for motorsports and resulted in Porsche being shortlisted for a JEC Innovation Award together with Bcomp and the Fraunhofer WKI. In fact, German Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, later used this door as a showcase on the press conference presenting Germany’s new bio-economy strategy.
“It has been a fascinating journey since we started our collaboration with Porsche 3 years ago, resulting in the first natural fibre bodywork in serial production – the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport with our sustainable lightweighting solution in the rear wing and doors. Today we present the next step together, expanding the technology to the full composite body kit. We are humbled and proud to collaborate with Porsche and its reputable partners, reaching an important milestone towards a widespread use of sustainable performance materials in tomorrow’s mobility” says Christian Fischer, CEO Bcomp.
From raw material to high performance parts.
Plain natural fibres cannot match the performance of carbon fibres. However, the award-winning powerRibs technology is a game changer. Inspired by the veins on the back of leaves, it creates a 3D grid on one side of a thin-walled shell element, which maximises stiffness at minimal weight.
The benefits of Bcomp’s sustainable technologies compared to carbon fibres are clear:
- Performance: equivalent stiffness to weight
- Sustainability: up to 75% lower CO2 footprint for a composite part using natural fibres vs. carbon fibres. At end of life, parts can be used for thermal energy recovery without residual waste, rather than ending up in landfills
- Safety: ductile crash behaviour without sharp shattering, reducing the risk for punctures
- Cost reduction: up to 30% lower material cost for the natural fibre fabric
Porsche Motorsports and Bcomp have worked closely together on the development of the natural fibre body kit, from Bcomp’s reverse engineering the carbon fibre parts into equivalent natural fibre parts, through iterations and manufacturing. It uses the same manufacturing technology and even the same moulds as the carbon fibre parts – with an important difference. Consumables such as bleeders and breathers can be eliminated, further reducing the environmental footprint and costs.