Most composites, like fiberglass or carbon fibre polymers, use resins derived from petrochemicals to hold the matrix together. While they are particularly strong materials, they are made from non-renewable resources, do not decompose easily and are hard to recycle.
However, mechanical engineers Mark Staiger (above right) and Tim Huber (above left) are working on polymers which consist completely of cellulose - a natural, renewable material. Similar biocomposites are already being used in internal car parts in countries like Germany where legislation has been enacted to ensure that more environmentally friendly options are used in manufacturing processes. Ruth Beran visits the University of Canterbury to find how these composites differ from others on the market, and the processes used to make them.