We definitely enjoy a good papercraft motorcycle when we see it, but they’re usually models—not full-sized bikes. On March 24, 2022, Swedish electric bike OEM Cake announced the next step in its plan to lower its carbon footprint. It’s teaming up with another Swedish company called PaperShell, which creates a sustainable, natural fiber composite material that is said to be stronger than the plastic it would replace.
Even better, according to the companies, its carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per kilogram of material is much lower than plastic or fiberglass. How much lower? According to internal figures, the PaperShell composite comes in at 0.65 kilograms CO2e per kilogram of material, while polypropylene comes in at 4.95 kg CO2e and fiberglass at 25.05 kg CO2e. If those figures are accurate, the difference seems pretty impressive.
PaperShell’s goal is to make sustainable, practical, strong components that can be durable, hard, and load-bearing in both indoor and outdoor applications. A number of shapes and finishes are possible using the company’s molding processes. Additionally, the composite is fire-, UV, scratch, and impact resistant. It’s also hydrophobic, which should mean that water will just bead right off.
What’s more, shaping possibilities mirror many of the same ones available when using plastic or sheet metal. Materials science is awesome, you guys. If these descriptions are anywhere close to accurate, it’s an extremely hopeful and interesting idea, for sure.
Know what else is cool for Cake, PaperShell, and all the rest of us who share the same home planet? Apparently, it can be recycled the same way wood is at its end-of-life, through any recycling plant worldwide that handles wood products. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like some pretty excellent news to us.
All these features combined paint a picture of an extremely interesting composite that could mark an interesting change in what’s possible. We’re not just talking for Cake, electric bikes, or even motorcycles in general. This type of material could easily find use in all kinds of industries, from automotive to office supply to home organization. Furniture-building could even make use of this material, or possibly wall paneling—the possibilities seem pretty endless here.