Eco-friendly car interiors

provided by Kafus Environmental Industries


afus Environmental Industries and Visteon Automotive Systems today announced the signing of an agreement under which the two organizations will collaborate on the development and production of natural fiber composite materials for use in automobile interiors. The decision to use natural fiber composites is a first for Visteon in the North American market.

Under the terms of the agreement, Kafus Bio-Composites, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kafus Environmental Industries, will work in concert with Visteon to develop various non-woven mats and panel products made from a combination of kenaf and other natural fibers. Kafus Bio-Composites will manufacture proprietary composites under Visteon trademarks. Visteon will then produce and market finished components such as door panels, seat backs and package trays for Ford Motor Company and other auto makers.

"By combining various polymers with kenaf fiber from our fields in South Texas, we can produce stronger, lighter and safer components for the automobile industry. We also see significant applications for this technology in furniture manufacturing, building and construction, packaging and, eventually, the aerospace industry," stated David Agneta, Kafus Bio-Composites president.

Kafus Environmental Industries, through its subsidiary, Kenaf Industries of South Texas, is North America's leading grower, processor and developer of kenaf. This fast-growing, drought-resistant relative of hibiscus is capable of growing 14 feet in seven months, without the use of extensive pesticides or herbicides. The outer "bast" fibers of the kenaf plant are an ideal substitute for fiberglass in the production of reinforced plastics.

Kafus Bio-Composites will blend bast fiber with various polymers to create flexible non-woven mats. Visteon will then form these mats into rigid three-dimensional automotive trim components in a one-step molding process that is expected to cut current production times in half. Kafus is currently planning a multimillion dollar North American facility that will include fiber blending machinery, a mat line and a fully equipped R& facility.

Kafus Environmental Industries is led by its chairman and founder, Ken Swaisland. "We are committed to becoming a world leader in the manufacturing of superior commodity materials made from sustainable resources," stated Swaisland. "In addition to this venture, our current projects include the world's first medium density fiberboard plants able to use 100 percent recovered urban wood waste; the production of tree-free newsprint and other paper products; the manufacturing of a cement/fiber alternative to wood and metal siding; and the conversion of animal and food processing waste into feed and organic fertilizer."