Using alternative materials to create car parts is something a lot of researchers focused on for years now. And it seems that we have a breakthrough on that front. A team of researchers from the University of Johannesburg showed that if you combine carbon nanotubes with plantain fibers and introduce epoxy resin, it’s possible to create a new material that’s great for the car industry.

A great new way to create car parts

The idea behind this sounds very enticing. However, natural fibers have been used to create vehicle parts for decades. This includes wood, sisal and hemp for engine covers, paneling or insulation. Plantain takes things a bit further than that, bringing in a unique and very comprehensive way to create vehicle cars in an adequate manner. This combination mentioned above sounds like a great idea for the movie industry.

The reason why this happens is because any natural fiber composites are low density, low cost and renewable. Plantain for example has great strength and stiffness, plus you don’t have to worry about issues during the manufacturing process. On top of that, the vehicle can be a lot lighter, which leads to improved safety and fuel efficiency as well. 

Creating a new, innovative material

Using natural fiber polymer composites can bring in some challenges too. The low flexural and tensile strength can make these parts prone to breaking or cracking. The team conducted by Dr Patrick Ehi Imoisili from the University of Johannesburg has shown that yes, it’s possible to combine plantain with epoxy resin and carbon nanotubes. 

All materials were added to a mold and then they were compressed for an entire day. They retained the room temperature and the result was a very powerful polymer that’s reinforced with fiber and which also has the carbon nanotubes. The material has 34% more flexural strength, the flexural modulus is 29% higher, even the tensile strength is 31% better. 

With help from this material, it will be very easy to create new, powerful vehicle parts in the long run. The thermal and mechanical strength of the composite shows that you can easily create very powerful vehicle parts in the long term with some impressive and dependable solutions that you can rely on. While using alternative materials for car parts is not new, an innovative material like this can make the use of such materials a lot more popular.


The team at the University of Johannesburg is continuing its studies, and they will most likely be able to improve on the current version of the compound. It’s an incredible alternative material and it has the potential to revolutionize the industry if it can go into mass production. More studies are needed in order to make that happen, but it’s great to see that researchers continue to innovate and expand our reach beyond the wildest dreams. The potential is definitely there, we just have to make the most out of it. This innovation is certainly a step in the right direction for alternative materials!