Researchers in Japan are currently developing car parts that are made out of a wooden pulp to make vehicles more lightweight.
Masanori Matsushiro, a project manager overseeing body design at Toyota Motor Corp, said: "Lightweighting is a constant issue for us. But we also have to resolve the issue of high manufacturing costs before we see an increased use of new, lighter-weight materials in mass-volume cars."
Whilst Kyoto University Professor Hiroaki Yano, who is leading the research, added: "This is the lowest-cost, highest-performance application for cellulose nano-fibres, and that's why we're focusing on its use in auto and aircraft parts ... I thought that if Howard Hughes could find a way to use wood to build a massive plane, why not use wood to make a material that was as strong as steel."
Cellulose nano-fibres are already used in a number of products ranging from ink to transparent displays but the Kyoto Process has allowed them to be used in cars. This process sees the fibres of the wood treated with chemicals and broken into nano-fibres whilst being kneaded into plastic.
Yukihiko Ishino, a spokesman at DaikyoNishikawa, said: "We've been using plastics as a replacement for steel, and we're hoping that cellulose nanofibers will widen the possibilities toward that goal."