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Automotive photo: Toyota

Automotive photo: Toyota For the future, Toyota is investigating the use of other bioplastics and their potentials, as well as further PLA applications for more model ranges. Details, however were not disclosed. In 1998, with the goal of helping to solve global environmental issues and alleviate food shortages, Toyota began research and development into biotechnology and afforestation. Toyota built the Toyota Biotechnology and Afforestation Laboratory to establish an R&D structure and has been working to accelerate business. The biotechnology and afforestation businesses are ventures with growth potential but also represent Toyota’s efforts to help build a recycling-based society. Toyota is aiming to realise the coexistence of environmental protection and economic growth by utilising environmental technologies, including biotechnology. Mazda Motor Corporation has announced that an industry-government-academia joint research project in Hiroshima Prefecture, in which Mazda is participating, has achieved an improved exterior surface quality, high-strength, heat-resistant bioplastic made of natural materials that can be used for vehicle interior parts such as the door module part shown in the picture on the left. This newly-developed bioplastic is made from 88 % corn-based PLA and 12 % petroleum-based additives. Mainly using corn-based polylactic acids, Nishikawa Rubber Co. Ltd, Hiroshima and Kinki Universities focused their efforts on developing a new nucleating agent for crystallisation and a compatibiliser compound to raise the strength and heat resistance of the new plastic, dramatically increasing the amount of applications for automobile manufacturing. photo: Mazda The material is said to feature three times the shock impact resistance along with 25 % higher heat resistance when compared with contemporary bioplastics used for items such as electrical appliances. In addition, it is made by a fermentation process that, compared with the process to make polypropylene, reduces energy use by 30 %. In contrast to current petroleum-based polypropylene, the new bioplastic also has comparatively higher rigidity, resulting in thinner mouldings and fewer materials used. These attributes hold great promise for better productivity in the mass production of vehicle parts, since parts manufacture frequently involves injection-moulding equipment. Mazda will continue its research and development in this area for the next several years, with 16 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/07] Vol. 2

any new advances to be employed in Mazda products. The use of bioplastics is one of many efforts that Mazda is undertaking as a countermeasure to global warming, according to a Mazda spokesperson. Mazda will keep up its proactive technical research on eco-friendly products for potential customers. The research program was conducted by a consortium consisting of two universities, seven companies and two research institutes, and began in 2004. PBS (polybutylene succinate) and bamboo Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, in cooperation with the Aichi Industrial Technology Institute (Kariya, Aichi Prefecture), has developed an automotive interior material which uses polybutylene succinate (PBS), combined with bamboo fibre. PBS, the main component of the material, is a plantbased resin composed mainly of succinic acid and 1,4-butanediol. The succinic acid for the material will be created by the fermentation of sugar extracted from sugar cane or corn. The new material combines bamboo fibre with PBS in order to increase its rigidity. Bamboo grows to its full height in just a few years, compared with the tens of years required for traditional timber, and as such may be called a potentially sustainable resource. Bamboo is available and can be grown in a wide variety of areas including Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. The use of this “Green Plastic” may lead to further breakthroughs in the use of bamboo. Parts made from the material will be used in the interior of a new-concept minicar, to be launched in Japan this year. Mitsubishi Motors will continue to promote the development of environmentally friendly materials, directed toward increased practical applications. According to tests, this PBS/bamboo-fibre prototype achieves an estimated 50% cut in lifecycle CO 2 emissions over polypropylene. VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels are also drastically reduced in comparison with processed wood hardboards (roughly 85% in testing). In addition to Green Plastic, Mitsubishi Motors is undertaking development of environmental technologies including the MIEV (Mitsubishi In-wheel motor Electric Vehicle) concept, and technologies contributing to a comfortable interior environment such as Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified seating material, the Bio-clear filter, and deodorant roof-lining. Mitsubishi aims to build cars appropriate to this, the „century of the environment“. Biobased fabrics Automotive photo: Mitsubishi bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/07] Vol. 2 17

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