The replacement of combustion engines with electric motors will bring new requirements in terms of efficiency.
As batteries are larger and heavier than older engines, it will be necessary to cut in weight in other areas to improve energy consumption. And it is in Japan that the solution may come as Japanese automotive industry suppliers are working on an element extracted from paper pulp that could lead to lighter, safer cars.
A group of researchers at Kyoto University are working with companies such as Denso or Daikyo-Nishikawa, which provide brands such as Toyota to create plastic-fortified microscopic cellulose fibers. Each of these nanofibers will have a dimension 1000 times smaller than a millimeter, and although this material is already used in industrial products, it had not yet been applied to the automotive industry.
Through the research done at the Japanese university, it is already possible to decompose the cellulose fibers into nanofibers, which are integrated into the structure of plastics, in an industrial process that is 80 percent cheaper than what was necessary to achieve the same result. In this way, the body of a car will be five times lighter but also five times more resistant. The practical results of this technology will be tested in 2020 when automotive industry suppliers plan to showcase a prototype made with this material.