Sustainable Engineering: Natural Fiber Bicycle Frame

Christopher Jones Butler University, Gunabhushan Sathyamurthy Butler University, Madeline Schmitz Butler University, Matthew Beebe Butler University, Matthew Tosino Butler University, Greg Cerabona Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Jonathan Sorenson Butler University, Alan Jones Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Research was conducted on natural fiber reinforced composites and their advantage over traditional, synthetic fibers, such as fiberglass and carbon fiber. The use of natural fibers as an engineering material is emerging in industry as an approach to lower energy consumption throughout the life-cycle of a product. The research was conducted by six Butler University Engineering Dual Degree Program students and IUPUI Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Alan Jones. The objective is to study the feasibility of using plain weave hemp canvas as fiber reinforcement in a natural fiber – epoxy composite bicycle frame. Research includes analysis of natural fiber and carbon fiber thin-walled, orthotropic composite shells and an “eco-audit” of energy consumption throughout the product life-cycle. Hemp – Epoxy specimens with varying volume fractions underwent a uni-axial tensile test to obtain material data. MatLab applies biomechanical research to design initial frame geometry, which is further optimized using ANSYS. The frame is manufactured using resin infusion and the “eco-audit” is generated using published data accumulated by Dr. Alan Jones. Manufacture and documentation of hemp – epoxy bike frame proves validity of hemp as replacement for synthetic glass fibers. Product life-cycle energy is subsequently lowered during manufacturing. The frame highlights advantages of using hemp as fiber reinforcement in composites. Hemp has a low environmental impact with high weight to stiffness ratio. Traditional composite manufacturing methods are retained as pre-impregnated, plain weave hemp canvas can be prepared for greater manufacturing accuracy and reproducibility.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

02:00 PM
Gallahue Hall 101