Natural Materials & Biocomposites Research Group

Research Group Summary

The Natural Fibres & Biocomposites Research Group at University of Canterbury is engaged in investigating novel environmentally, sustainable materials with the aim of reducing New Zealand’s reliance on materials derived from petrochemicals.

The group has worked on the processing of New Zealand flax fibre, bamboo, hemp fibre, regenerated cellulose fibres, bacterial cellulose, and other sources of cellulose for use in bio-plastics or bio-based composites.

The research involves the chemical, thermal and enzymatic treatment of these natural fibres to make them suitable for use as reinforcement in bio-based composites. The structure of the fibres are characterised after treatment using electron microscopy, wet chemistry and spectroscopy techniques. The mechanical properties (e.g. strength) of the fibres are measured using specialized equipment within our group to monitor the effect of various treatments in order to optimize processing treatments. Finally the fibres are combined with bio-plastics to form composites using a variety of processing routes such as hot compression and infusion under vacuum. An extensive range of facilities permits the assessment of mechanical, viscoelastic and thermomechanical properties of the final composite material.

We work with those industries interested in the application of bio-based composite materials in new products. If you are interested in becoming involved in our university-based research then please contact Dr. Mark Staiger.

Key Contact

Members - UC Staff

Members - Non-UC Staff

  • George Dias: Collaborator; Otago University
  • Dr Benoît Duchemin: Collaborator; CNRS-Université du Havre, France
  • Alain Dufresne: Collaborator; Pagora, Grenoble Institute of Technology
  • Bronwyn Fox: Collaborator; Carbon Nexus, Deakin University
  • Marie Joo Le Guen: Postgraduate student; Scion Ltd.
  • Kevin Magniez: Collaborator; Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University
  • Jörg Müssig: Collaborator; Hochschule Bremen
  • Roger Newman: Collaborator; Scion Ltd.
  • Nick Tucker: Collaborator; Plant and Food Research Ltd.
  • Dieter Viet: Collaborator; RWTH Aachen, Textiles Institute

Associated Projects

Subject Area: Disciplines