Nanocellulose Bicycle

Published 2018-01-09

We produced the world’s first bicycle using nanocellulose tubing.

Why use natural fibers?

Modern bicycles are made from petroleum-based materials, namely carbon fiber reinforced plastics. Nanocellulose could potentially replace some of the synthetic fiber composites with a natural and renewable alternative. So far, nano-cellulose has not been used in structural applications due to difficult processing and limited availability of materials. The world’s first nanocellulose bicycle is presented here and it demonstrates how an everyday product can be manufactured using a raw material that is abundant in Finland.

How it was made

A process for building up nano-cellulose layers on a mandrel was developed and tubes were manufactured using this method. The tubes were then cut and mitered to length. The next stage involved adhesively bonding the tubes at correct angles with the help of 3D-printed fixtures. The bonded joints were reinforced by laminating carbon fiber on top (overmoulding). The laminate was cured in a vacuum bag and the smooth outer surface was achieved with the help of 3D-printed moulds. Finally, a clear coat was applied on the surface and the bicycle was assembled using standard components.

Acknowledgements: We wish to thank Tiina Härkäsalmi for making the tubes and Eeva Suorlahti for taking the pics.