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Introducing the Japanese supercar made from wood



With automotive companies seeking more ways to reduce their carbon footprint, most are turning towards low emission and electric vehicles. But in Japan, a very different solution is being researched - one which has resulted in a concept supercar made from wood-based materials.

The bodywork of this car has been made from plant-based materials

The car, of course, isn’t actually made from solid wood - but is in fact crafted from plant-based cellulose nanofibers (CNF) which are developed from condensed wood pulp that has been boiled in chemicals to remove lignin and hemicellulose.

The result is an ultra-strong, lightweight material - more than five times the strength of steel and 1/5th of the weight. Manufacturers have found ways to injection mould CNF as a resin-reinforced slurry into complex shapes, allowing it to be used to build vehicles. 

Pulped wood is boiled in chemicals to remove lignin and hemicellulose, forming strong, light nanofibres

The Japanese Ministry of the Environment along with Kyoto University is heading up a consortium of 22 research institutes, companies and universities to maximise the potential for implementing CNF as a manufacturing alternative. This includes the project which built the gull-winged supercar with CNF throughout the bodywork and interior.

The wood-based nanofibres are used throughout the bodywork and the interior

According to the developers, using CNF has reduced the weight of the car by 10%, while sustainably moving as much as 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) of carbon from the car’s lifecycle.

Details on the car are limited, but it's thought to use a hydrogen fuel cell

"[CNF] can be used as an alternative to resin, metal, and glass materials," the consortium have said. 

"In concept cars, CNF [can be] used for parts such as door trims, bonnets, and roof panels, reducing the weight of parts by up to 50% and reducing the weight of the entire vehicle by more than 10%." 

The car is 10% lighter and made from sustainable materials, ensuring its carbon emissions are much lower over its lifecycle

As well as providing a sustainable, plant-based manufacturing material, the lighter weight means less carbon being emitted when the car is driven.

The car was showcased at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, though no details have been released about the car’s powertrain yet.

The concept is just one of a series of research projects taking place in Japan to use carbon-free, sustainable materials

The team are continuing to test the CNF car parts to ensure they meet materials specifications and last over the long term, as well as determining whether production can be made cheap enough for mass production.

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Recent Comments
I love this innovation. I am an Indigenous knowledge Expert in Sustainable development. Producing this car from wood is a real deal to preach more about the "integration of indigenous innovation into modern technology."
Jide Eroh, 07 November 2019
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Introducing the Japanese supercar made from wood - Time to read 2 min
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