Façade elements made from natural fibre composites
Cityblob is an Amsterdam-based architecture, urban planning and real estate development company with a particular focus on railway and underground stations and their surrounding areas. A recently realized project is a large-scale sport, retail and leisure development that is part of the new Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena railway station. For this project specific dark orange coloured composite façade elements have been developed.
A similar project Cityblob is currently working on will have façade elements made with natural fibres instead of glass fibre. These elements are developed in close cooperation with NPSP Composites. NPSP is the European industry leader in sustainable composites. Working with natural resources such as flax, hemp and bio-based resin, NPSP produces composites with a longer life cycle and a highly reduced waste production, while maintaining true value for money. The bio-based composites developed by NPSP are sold under the Nabasco® brand name, short for nature-based composites.
City of Amsterdam
Urban Solution Sloterdijk III
The City of Amsterdam has joined forces with Waternet and RVR Hoofddorp to use part of their construction-ready land in Amsterdam Sloterdijk III temporarily for the cultivation of crops that serve as raw material for local manufacturing of sustainable products. They work in collaboration with Schiphol that provides land for the same purpose.
In 2014 and 2015, for instance, the land was planted with hemp, linseed and primrose. The yield of the various parcels of land is sold upfront to sustainable regional companies. RIGO Paint, for example, purchase the linseed oil using it to develop a sustainable paint for local production. Moreover, the fibres of the different crops were used as basic material by NPSP Composites in the manufacture of a variety of products, with applications ranging from tables and chairs to scooters, boats and car doors.
Rene Roman Smeets
In close cooperation with NPSP, Rene Roman Smeets has designed and built a longboard (a type of skateboard) made of natural fibre composites. This high-performance natural fibre composite product mainly consists of flax and a natural resin. The material is also known as Nabasco® (Nature Based Composite). The fibre will be visible at the surface due to the semi-translucent resin used and a transparent coating that creates exposure. It gives a natural feeling important for emphasising the sustainability of the material.
As yet, purely in terms of strength, natural-based composites still are weaker than their glass fibre forerunner. Regarding stiffness, however, they are actually quite similar. Fortunately the latter is often the limiting factor, especially when high-performance products like longboards are involved. If the board is stiff enough, the strength will generally be acceptable too. Natural based composites are much lighter than glass fibre composites, with an eco-friendlier production method. Working with natural-based composites is also much more sensible: exposure to glass fibre can cause skin inflammation. With natural based composites Rene Roman Smeets and NPSPO have manufactured a variety of boards, all customised to rider preference and purpose, including very stiff boards for mountain riders and very flexible ones for urban use.
Experienced sailors at NPSP built a personal racing catamaran using natural fibre composites: the Flaxcat. According to NPSP, ‘the Flaxcat is the world’s first large construction using flax, built to withstand immense mechanical pressures.’
Epoxy injection on a single-sided mould under vacuum foil was first experimented with during the manufacturing stage of this project. This production process is especially relevant when making natural fibre composites. Vacuum-assisted resin infusion ensures that the resin completely seals the natural fibre surfaces.
NPSP is the European industry leader in sustainable composites. Working with natural resources such as flax, hemp and bio-based resin, NPSP produces composites with a longer life cycle and a highly reduced waste production, while maintaining true value for money. The bio-based composites developed by NPSP are sold under the Nabasco® brand name, short for nature-based composites.
More infromation: www.NPSP.nl
Bio-based signposts and road signs
NPSP was asked by the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB: Algemene Nederlandse Wielrijdersbond) to produce an environmentally friendly version of the familiar Dutch ANWB cycle-path signposts that is both better quality and more durable than the existing ones.
The new signposts are made with natural fibres instead of glass fibre. According to the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) method, this reduces their environmental impact by 40%.Thanks to the double-mould procedure, the new signposts are significantly more attractive and stronger than their predecessors.
The production in a closed-mould system connected to active carbon filters reduces styrene emissions to a minimum. Three to four hundred bio-based signposts are produced each year and can be found throughout the Netherlands.
Be.e: the first biocomposite e-scooter
Conventional metal scooter frames have over one hundred separate parts and fourteen plastic covering caps. The structure of the Be.e electric scooter, however, is integrated into a single load-carrying monocoque made from natural fibre composites. This material – produced from Dutch flax and bioresin – is extremely strong and ultralight. Hopefully, this innovative and sustainable prototype will lead to the application of high-grade biocomposites in all vehicle types.
The team consists of the following parties: NPSP Composites, electric scooter manufacturer Van.Eko, flax supplier Van de Bilt Zaden en Vlas, mould manufacturer Modec, resin supplier Euroresins, resin manufacturer DSM, hemp supplier HempFlax, electronics developer Betronic, engineer Co.En, design agency Waarmakers, spray paint shop Ton de Rooij, Qwic and Inholland University of Applied Sciences.
Images: © Van.eko
Pastoe design chair
Maarten van Severen (1956-2005) created the elegant design for a piece of furniture that reflects his personal and design philosophy: straightforward, well-considered and made with modern materials. In cooperation with Pastoe and Ecological Textiles, NPSP has developed an environmentally friendly variant of the Low Chair based on biocomposites where the glass fibre is replaced by a natural fibre, in this case flax.
The polyester hull is lightly curved, 4 mm thick at the edges and 8 mm in the middle of the seat, giving the chair a slender and delicate appearance without having to forego strength and stiffness. The RVS inserts are invisibly integrated, resulting in a direct fit of the seat to its steel frame. The natural basic materials allow the seat to ultimately be used as biomass, producing green energy at the end of its life cycle.
More information: www.pastoe.com
World’s first bio-based façade
NPSP Composites, in close cooperation with Studio Marco Vermeulen and TOM – Tuinbouwontwikkelingsmaatschappij, has created the world’s first bio-based façade, building it in Dinteloord.
The structure, a gas transfer station, is clad with 104 bio-based panels. These façade elements are made of Nabasco® (NAtural BASed COmposites) and are finished in a brown, opaque coating that gives them a state-of-the-art look not readily associated with natural fibres. The exact constitution of the resin varies, but often soya beans, linseed oil and biodiesel production waste are used by NPSP. Each panel, measuring 140 x 185 cm, has the letters C, H and N printed in relief. These refer to the chemical symbols of the main components (carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen) of the gas handled by the station.
Images: © Ronald Tilleman
According to DSM the benefits of composite bridges for the end-customer and the environment are as follows. Composite bridges can be easily installed because of their low weight. This reduces installation time and potential disruption to traffic and people. Also the lower weight requires lighter foundations compared to bridges made in pure steel or concrete.
Because of their very nature, composite materials resist well water, heat and chemicals. Therefore these bridges only require limited maintenance (unlike steel bridges that need painting after some years of use). This saves time and cost, while again the impact on the environment and traffic is minimized.
For the bio-bridge project of Fibercore the novel Synolite™ 7500-N-1 resin of DSM is used. This is a high strength structural resin partly based on renewable raw materials. The resin can be easily converted through vacuum infusion manufacturing processes into composite components. It contains approximately 50 % bio raw materials.
Tom van Soest, the Chief Creative at StoneCycling is the godfather of the WasteBasedBrick. This is a new and sustainable brick made from natural and industrial waste. StoneCycling believes in a circular world. The primary input for new building materials can and should be waste materials. With the WasteBased-Brick, Tom is a frontrunner in the movement towards a circular building industry.
StoneCycling is well on its way to becoming a major new player in the surface material market. Those architects and real estate developers with a penchant for something new and a taste for Aubergine, Truffle or Mushroom should especially take note, as these are names of various types of WasteBasedBricks.
And that’s not all: perhaps your own waste could lead to something new. With his ‘Your waste, your brick’ principle, Van Soest is motivating property owners, municipalities and architects to develop a WasteBasedBrick together with him. This can lead to surprising opportunities and designs. It also increases owner awareness of the potential value waste has.
More information: www.stonecycling.com
Nova modular car
NPSP has developed interchangeable body panels of Nabasco biocomposite for the modular electric car named Nova, designed and built by a team of students from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e).
Nova is a radical electric three-seater with a modular approach that can completely be customised to suit driver demands. Weighing in at a mere 300 kg, the car is extremely lightweight thanks to its biocomposite components. The vehicle achieved the design team’s aim, easily reaching speeds of 90 km/h and over.
More information: www.youtube.com/watch?v=93-WOHgezyo
Eco-friendly sanitary facilities
Staatsbosbeheer, a Dutch public organization that manages a sizeable amount of the nature reserves in the Netherlands, commissioned NPSP and Faro architects to design and build low-maintenance, environmentally friendly and natural looking sanitary facilities for their nature camp sites. For both their environmental as well as aesthetic goals the use of NaBasCo to produce the units was well suited.
Using natural fibre composites resulted in maintenance free wash basin and toilet units that are more environmentally friendly produced than with traditional materials. For the ’natural look’ NPSP has used a milky, semi-stransparent resin, which shows off the fibre and emphasises the natural character of the sanitary facility.