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Automotive The development of a plant-based „bio-fabric“ with excellent durability and resistance to sunlight, for use as a surface material in automobile interiors has been announced by Honda Motor Co., Ltd. Despite the environmental benefits offered by its CO 2 balance, plant-based fabric has not been used commercially for automobile interiors due to concerns about limited durability and aesthetics. Car seat with the new bio-fabric and a spool of yarn (photo: Honda) Sheets of the bio-fabric (photo: Honda) Honda‘s bio-fabric has overcome such issues, and achieved a soft and smooth material appropriate for the surface of automobile interiors, with high durability and excellent resistance to sunlight to prevent colour fading after prolonged use. In addition to seat surfaces, this bio-fabric can be used for the interior surface of the doors and roof, and for floor mats. A polyester material called PPT (polypropylene terephthalate) is the basic material of the bio-fabric. PPT is produced by polymerisation of corn-based 1-3PDO (propanediol) from DuPont/Tate&Lyle, and terephthalic acid, a petroleum-based component. In order to improve stability as a fabric, Honda applied a multi-thread structure for the fibre with petroleum-derived PET fibres, etc. so that the ratio of bio-based components ranges approximately from 30% to 40%. In addition, unprecedented aesthetic properties were achieved by leveraging the flexibility of this fibre. The threads from which Honda produced the fabric were developed in cooperation with DuPont and Toray Industries in a joint research project. Based on the concept of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), Honda has been striving to reduce CO 2 emissions throughout the entire life cycle of an automobile – from production and usage to disposal. Thanks to the use of a plant-based ingredient in the production of raw materials, the newly developed bio-fabric will enable Honda to reduce the energy used during the production process by 10 to 15% compared with the production of petroleum-based polyester materials. The use of plant-based ingredients can reduce CO 2 emissions by 5 kg per automobile, calculated on the Accord class of vehicles. Furthermore, the new bio-fabric does not require changes in existing fabric production processes, and is suitable for mass production. Honda will first introduce bio-fabric interiors with their new fuel cell vehicle, then gradually try to expand the application to new models from 2009 and beyond. Conclusion There‘s a lot of development going on out there, and bioplastics MAGAZINE has not been able to report on all of it in this issue. Compared with other fields of application, such as packaging for fast moving consumer goods, one fact seems obvious, at least today: The question of sustainability, in other words the increased use of renewable resources and thus the reduction of the CO 2 impact on the climate, as well as reduced consumption of fossil resources, is much more important for the automotive industry than the compostability of bioplastics. bioplastics MAGAZINE will continue to report on new developments in the automotive industry. And as always, comments, suggestions and any other contributions from our readers are more than welcome. 18 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/07] Vol. 2

Automotive As one of the world‘s largest tyre manufacturers Goodyear continuously carries out scientific research to improve the performance of its product. At the same time the company is sensitive to environmental issues, and seeks to reduce to a minimum the pollutants used in the production processes Reduce petroleum-based components Traditional fillers in tyres are carbon black, diatomite and silica. In searching for an environmentally more sustainable solution that also achieves a high level of product quality, the collaboration between Novamont and Goodyear led to the creation of a “bio-tyre”, which uses BioTRED technology to partly replace these fillers. Mater-Bi ® by Novamont, used in the production of BioTRED, is a special patented formula derived from corn. The starch is treated to obtain nano-droplets of a complexed starch. In a next step, these nano droplets are added to the rubber compound to be transformed into a biopolymeric filler. Environmental advantages According to Novamont and Goodyear the bio-tyres, marketed in in Europe, for instance, as GT3, or in Japan (in Japan all tyres are BioTRED) as GT-HYBRID and EAGLE LS3000, feature physical properties that differ substantially from those of the traditional fillers and thus offer several environmental advantages. Not only does the tyre require less energy in its production, and not only does the cultivation of corn absorb CO 2 , but the tyre actually requires less energy to move the car thanks to a reduced rolling resistance. In combination with a lower tyre weight this is said to add up to a 5% saving in fuel consumption. Further advantages announced by the two companies are a reduction in noise, and therefore in sound pollution, better road-holding in the wet, improved grip and steering ability, and therefore better safety. Award and support In July 2001 the GT3 tyres won an award from Legambiente, the biggest non-profit environmentalist organisation in Italy, and the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan), the largest technical university in Italy. And just recently, the European Commission has awarded Goodyear a major research and development grant to support the company‘s initiative in the further development of environmentally friendly tyres. The grant of three million Euros is part of the European Union‘s LIFE-Environment programme. Research partner in this project is, besides Novamont, the German car maker BMW. Bio-Tyres save energy and CO 2 Novamont‘s collaboration with Goodyear led to the creation of a bio-tyre LIFE: photo: Novamont bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/07] Vol. 2 19

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