Electric trucks exterior body components made of flax and biodegradable resin
Carl-Magnus Norden, Founder of Volta Trucks:
"Sustainability is at the very core of our business. Saving the planet cannot wait, it must happen now, and Volta Trucks wants to spearhead the rapid change in large commercial vehicles, from outdated diesel to clean and safe technological solutions."
Full electric drivetrain
Volta Trucks aims to mitigate the environmental impact of logistics and freight deliveries that forms the commercial lifeblood of large metropolitan cities. Thanks to its full-electric drivetrain and 160-200KWh of battery power, the Volta Zero will operate for 150-200kms delivering freight and parcels across the world's cities in a clean and efficient way.
By 2025 operators of Volta Trucks will eliminate around 180,000 tonnes of CO2 per year – the equivalent annual CO2 usage of 24,000 houses. And thanks to its the silent electric operation, the Volta Zero will also improve a city's noise pollution and enable 24-hour usage for its operator.
Natural and biodegradable body panels
The Volta Zero will be one of the first road vehicles to use a sustainably sourced natural flax material and biodegradable resins in the construction of exterior body panels, with the cab's dark body panels and many interior trims constructed from the natural material. The high- tech flax weave was developed in collaboration with the European Space Agency and is currently used in 16 of the world's most competitive motor racing series.
Flax is a sustainably farmed crop where the entire plant is used; flax seeds for linseed oil, the fibres for fabrics, and any leftovers as animal feed or field fertilizer. Volta's world-leading supplier, Bcomp of Switzerland, uses the harvested flax fibre to create their ampliTex technical fabric - a natural and fully sustainable technical fabric.
The flax fibre's quality, yarn thickness and twist are all highly engineered, and the weave is reinforced by Bcomp's patented powerRibs grid technology, inspired by the principles of leaf veins. The result is a fully natural, extremely lightweight, high-performance fibre reinforcement that is almost CO2 neutral over its lifecycle. The panels made with powerRibs can match the stiffness and weight of carbon fibre but uses 75% less CO2 to produce.
The flax matting is then combined with a biodegradable resin by world-class composites manufacturer, Bamd in the UK, to produce the body panels for the Volta Zero. The fully bio- based resin, derived from Rape Seed oil, creates a naturally brown coloured matting. A black natural pigment dye is added to complete its darker, technical appearance. Bamd's revolutionary manufacturing processes aims for total recyclability of all tooling materials, including solvent-free, water-based sealers and release agents.
Advanced material properties suited to an electric vehicle
The natural flax composite offers a number of benefits when compared to carbon fibre or other similar lightweight man-made materials. Unlike the conductive nature of carbon fibre, the flax composite is non-conductive, lessening any issues of a short circuit in the event of a vehicle accident. It also offers up to three times better vibration damping.
Should an accident occur, the flax composite bends, reshapes and ultimately snaps, unlike carbon fibre that shatters, offering a flexible fracture behaviour without sharp edges. This makes the powerRibs and ampliTex composite body panels particularly suited for urban mobility, reducing the risk of sharp debris that can injure people or cause further accidents through punctures.
At the end of their useful life, flax composite parts can be burnt within the standard waste management system and used for thermal energy recovery, unlike alternative composite materials that are usually sent to landfill.
Chief Executive Officer of Volta Trucks, Rob Fowler, concluded:
"Every Volta Zero will remove tonnes of CO2 from our city's atmospheres but we believe that sustainability is more than just tailpipe emissions, so we have taken an environmental-first approach to all material sourcing. This includes the world's first use of a natural Flax and biodegradable resin composite in body panel construction that is CO2 neutral and fully recyclable. We will continue to strain every sinew to ensure we deliver on our mission of becoming the world's most sustainable commercial vehicle manufacturer."