10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Natural Fiber Composites: Design, Testing, and Engineering



Due to interest in sustainable materials, natural fibers are increasingly being utilized in composite materials. In many commercial applications, very short natural fibers are being used primarily as fillers to achieve a ‘greener’ product. While these types of applications reduce plastic content in consumer goods, and generally require lower energy during production, they are not realizing the true potential of natural fibers as an engineered reinforcement material. Recent advances in natural feedstock processing have yielded fiber forms which can be used to replace glass fibers in many reinforced plastic applications. Moreover, natural fiber composites have been found to offer benefits such as reduced weight and costs.  Generally speaking, the high specific modulus of natural fibers often enables reduced weight parts which can be designed to match glass fiber composite stiffness. An introduction to these materials, as well as their benefits and challenges, will be offered and substantiated. Test data on natural fibers and natural fiber reinforced composites will be presented illustrating the competitive nature of natural fiber composites. Details will be given on the compatibly and processing variations when utilizing natural fibers in common manufacturing processes. Examples will be presented which illustrate property matching and design considerations between glass and natural fiber composites.


Dr. Riddle started his career in composites performing accelerated static and fatigue structural testing on wind turbine blades. He went on to develop novel probabilistic methods to evaluate variations in mechanical properties of composite structures containing defects. He started Gradient Engineering an engineering services firm focused on polymer composite applications. He is now the CEO of Sunstrand, the leading supplier of biomaterials for composite, technical nonwoven and plastic applications. Dr. Riddle received his BS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Montana State University and Masters from Cornell University.

PRESENTATION: Natural Fiber Composites_ Design Testing and Engineering

Trey W. Riddle, Ph.D / CEO, Sunstrands