Bio-composites are on the move, now literally as well as figuratively. The Be.e electric scooter, a collaboration between InHolland, NPSP composites and van.eko, and dutch design duo waarmakers, features a monococque body/frame made of bio-resin reinforced with hemp and flax fibers. The lightweight scooter can cruise at a top speed of 55 km/h (about 34 mph), with a range of 55 km or more on a single charge. Driving at a leisurely 15 MPH increases the range to almost 80km/50 miles. It weighs in at 95kg, about 18% lighter than a similar-sized competitor made of conventional materials.
Reinforcing fiber is a combination of hemp and flax. According to Vaniek Colenbrander of van.eko, hemp non-woven mats are the primary reinforcement throughout the shell. In places where additional strength is required, uni-directional flax fibers are added. The properties of the fibers themselves are very similar, and the choice of this distribution of fiber was purely practical. At the time of design, flax fiber was available in unidirectional (UD) strands, but hemp was only available in non-woven mats. If UD hemp had been available, the scooter would have been designed entirely using hemp.
The bio-based resin is ultraviolet (UV) resistant in itself, but it is largely covered with a paint coat that adds additional UV resistance. The designers have left a small section unpainted to expose the fiber/resin composite, a bit of “disclosure” that adds an element of visual interest.
Images courtesy of van.eko