Bio-Based Composites

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Bio-based composites are a class of materials that combine natural fibers or biopolymers with other materials, typically synthetic resins, to create high-performance, sustainable alternatives to traditional composites. These materials leverage the inherent properties of natural fibers, such as strength, lightweightness, and biodegradability, while using bio-based resins to reduce reliance on petroleum-based counterparts.

Impact on climate action

Bio-Based Composites offer a sustainable alternative to traditional materials like plastics and metals, reducing carbon emissions and dependency on fossil fuels. By encouraging the use of renewable resources in manufacturing, it promotes circular economy principles, mitigating environmental degradation and advancing climate action agendas through reduced greenhouse gas emissions.


  • Fiber Extraction and Processing: Bio-based composites utilize fibers extracted from various natural sources, including:
    • Plant Fibers: Hemp, flax, jute, kenaf, bamboo, and wood fibers offer strength, lightweightness, and renewability.
    • Animal Fibers: Wool and silk fibers can provide unique properties, such as thermal insulation and biocompatibility.
    • Other Natural Fibers: Chitin from crustacean shells, fungal mycelium, and bacterial cellulose offer distinct functionalities.
  • Bio-Based Resins: Bio-based resins are derived from renewable sources, such as plant oils, sugars, and lignin. These resins offer a sustainable alternative to traditional petroleum-based resins, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Composite Manufacturing Techniques: Bio-based composites are manufactured using a range of composite manufacturing techniques, including:
    • Molding: Injecting or pressing a mixture of fibers and resin into a mold to create desired shapes.
    • Layup: Manually layering fibers and resin onto a mold to build complex structures.
    • Pultrusion: Pulling fibers through a resin bath and then through a heated die to create continuous profiles.

TRL : 7-9 (depending on the specific material and application)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • High-Performance Bio-Based Resins: Significant research is focused on developing bio-based resins that offer improved performance characteristics, such as higher strength, better heat resistance, and enhanced durability.
  • Functionalized Bio-Based Fibers: Innovations involve modifying bio-based fibers to enhance their properties, such as increasing their strength, improving their compatibility with resins, and imparting functionalities like flame retardancy or antimicrobial properties.
  • 3D Printing with Bio-Based Composites: 3D printing technologies are being adapted to utilize bio-based composite materials, enabling the fabrication of complex and customized structures with reduced waste.
  • Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental Impact Analysis: Researchers are conducting life cycle assessments and environmental impact analyses to quantify the environmental benefits of bio-based composites compared to conventional composites.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Advanced Functionalization of Natural Fibers
  • Bio-Based Composite Aerogels
  • Nanocellulose Reinforced Composites
  • High-Performance Bio-Based Resins
  • Bio-Based Composite Automotive Parts
  • Structural Applications in Construction
  • Marine Applications of Bio-Based Composites
  • Lightweight Bio-Based Sports Equipment
  • 3D Printing with Bio-Based Composites
  • Smart Bio-Based Composite Materials
  • Biodegradable Composite Packaging
  • Bio-Based Composite Furniture
  • Fire-Retardant Bio-Based Composites
  • Bio-Based Composite Wind Turbine Blades
  • Acoustic Properties of Bio-Based Composites
  • Thermal Insulation with Bio-Based Composites
  • Bio-Based Composites in Aerospace

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Green Dot Bioplastics:
    • Technology Enhancement: Green Dot Bioplastics specializes in developing bio-based and compostable materials for various applications, including packaging, consumer goods, and automotive components. They use innovative compounding techniques to create biocomposites from renewable resources such as plant-based polymers and agricultural waste.
    • Uniqueness: Green Dot Bioplastics stands out for its commitment to sustainability and its ability to create high-performance biocomposites that can replace traditional petroleum-based plastics in a wide range of applications.
    • End-User Segments Addressed: Green Dot Bioplastics caters to industries seeking sustainable alternatives to conventional plastics, including packaging companies, consumer goods manufacturers, and automotive suppliers.
  2. Bcomp:
    • Technology Enhancement: Bcomp specializes in the development and production of natural fiber composites for lightweighting applications in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and sports equipment. They utilize advanced processing techniques to transform natural fibers, such as flax and hemp, into high-performance composite materials.
    • Uniqueness: Bcomp’s expertise lies in its ability to optimize the properties of natural fibers and combine them with bio-based resins to create composites that offer comparable performance to traditional synthetic materials while being more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
    • End-User Segments Addressed: Bcomp serves industries where lightweighting and sustainability are paramount, including automotive manufacturers, aerospace companies, and producers of high-performance sporting goods.
  3. Lingrove:
    • Technology Enhancement: Lingrove specializes in the development of lignin-based composites, leveraging lignin, a natural polymer found in plant cell walls, as a sustainable alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics and synthetic composites. They utilize proprietary processing techniques to enhance the mechanical properties and aesthetic appeal of their bio-based composites.
    • Uniqueness: Lingrove’s focus on lignin-based composites offers a unique alternative to conventional bio-based materials, providing a renewable and low-carbon footprint solution for various applications, including furniture, architectural panels, and automotive interiors.
    • End-User Segments Addressed: Lingrove caters to industries seeking sustainable materials with a unique aesthetic appeal, including furniture manufacturers, interior designers, and automotive designers looking for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional materials.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research (Germany):
    • Research Focus: The Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research specializes in the development of bio-based composites using sustainable materials derived from wood and other renewable sources.
    • Uniqueness: Their research focuses on leveraging the unique properties of wood fibers and other natural materials to create composites with enhanced mechanical strength, durability, and environmental sustainability. They employ advanced processing techniques, such as hot pressing and extrusion, to fabricate bio-based composites with tailored properties.
    • End-use Applications: The applications of Fraunhofer’s research span various industries, including construction, automotive, and consumer goods. For instance, their bio-based composites are used in the production of lightweight structural components for buildings, eco-friendly furniture, and biodegradable packaging materials.
  2. University of Cambridge (UK):
    • Research Focus: The University of Cambridge’s research in Bio-Based Composites explores innovative approaches to incorporating natural fibers and biopolymers into composite materials for diverse applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research emphasizes the development of bio-based composites with enhanced performance characteristics, such as improved strength, stiffness, and fire resistance. They investigate novel processing techniques, such as 3D printing and nanotechnology, to optimize the properties of bio-based composites for specific end-use requirements.
    • End-use Applications: The applications of Cambridge’s research include aerospace, marine, and renewable energy sectors. For example, their bio-based composites are used in the manufacturing of lightweight aircraft components, sustainable marine structures, and wind turbine blades, contributing to reduced environmental impact and resource conservation.
  3. Kyoto University (Japan):
    • Research Focus: Kyoto University’s research in Bio-Based Composites focuses on harnessing the potential of natural fibers and biodegradable polymers to develop eco-friendly materials for various applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research stands out for its emphasis on the environmental sustainability and biodegradability of bio-based composites. They explore the use of locally sourced natural fibers and bio-based resins to minimize the carbon footprint and promote circular economy principles.
    • End-use Applications: The applications of Kyoto University’s research encompass automotive, electronics, and healthcare sectors. For instance, their bio-based composites are utilized in automotive interior components, electronic casings, and biomedical implants, offering lightweight, durable, and environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional materials.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Bio-based composites have achieved significant commercial adoption in various sectors. They are being used in automotive components, furniture, packaging, construction materials, and even wind turbine blades. Several factors are driving this adoption, including:

  • Environmental Sustainability: The desire to reduce reliance on petroleum-based materials and decrease the environmental footprint of manufacturing is a major driver.
  • Performance Benefits: Bio-based composites offer a range of performance advantages, including lightweightness, strength, and vibration damping properties.
  • Cost Competitiveness: As production scales up and technologies advance, bio-based composites are becoming increasingly cost-competitive with conventional composites.