The recent high cost of petro-based feedstock and polymers coupled with advances in new technologies like biotechnology, nanotechnology, green chemistry and material science have set the pace rolling for the revival of bio-based materials.Now, automotive companies are making a major effort to reintroduce plant-based plastics as a way of reducing their reliance on foreign oil and improving their environmental footprint.
Lightweighting’ is a hot topic for the automotive industry and the main reason why plastics have continuously been used to substitute heavier materials such as metals. Beyond the benefits of reduced weight, the future lies in choosing the most resource efficient plastics, i.e. bioplastics. Besides these evident advantages, e.g. biobased performance polymers (biobased polyesters/biobased polyamides) feature all the performance criteria important to high quality car components.
Prominent companies and their efforts in bioplastic automotive car parts manufacturing
- A front-runner in adopting bioplastics is Japanese car manufacturer Toyota which uses bioplastics such as biobased polyesters, biobased PET, and PLA-blends in its production process
- Italian manufacturer Fiat is another major player in the automotive industry relying on biobased plastics. Fiat used castor oil-derived long chain polyamides to replace their fossil based equivalent in more than one million vehicles; the company plans to further increase this number.
- Faurecia and Mitsubishi Chemical have announced a joint programme for developing a bioplastic based on biobased PBS that can be used in mass-production for automotive interior parts, such as door panels, trim and strip, structural instrument panels, air ducts, door panel and console inserts.
- In 2011, BASF and Ford teamed up to develop a sustainable, plant-sourced castor oil-based foam product for the 2012 Ford Focus instrument panel
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