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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_0901

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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_0901

Automotive Ford Mustang

Automotive Ford Mustang (Photo: Ford) Bioplastics in Automotive Applications CO 2 Reduction (Million Ibs.) 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0.6 Mustang Program 5.3 Program Using Soy Foam in 2008 14.3 If Migrated to all FMC Vehicles CO 2 reduction when using soy foam (source: Ford) Ford To update ourselves on the latest bioplastics developments in the automotive industry bioplastics MAGAZINE spoke to Ellen Lee, Plastics Research Technical Expert in the Materials and Nanotechnology Department of Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan, USA. One of Ford’s projects that is now in production is soybased polyurethane foam with a total soy content of 5% of the pad weight. Among the first cars that had such products was the 2008 model of the Ford Mustang. “Today it’s in over a million Ford vehicles,” as Ellen comments, “including the Ford F150, Ford Mustang, Ford Focus, Ford Escape, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Mercury Mariner”. The polyurethane contains soy-based polyol and is applied to seat backs and seat cushions. All Ford programs using soy foam in 2008 lead to a CO 2 reduction of 2,400 tons (5.3 million lbs) per year. If soy foam technology was migrated to all Ford Motor Company vehicles, this would result in a reduction of about 6,500 tons (14.3 million lbs) of CO 2 per year. But it is not only the soy oil that is being exploited. Researchers at Ford also found interest in the soy flour or soy meal, which is the residue after extracting the oil. Ford is investigating using these substances as reinforcements or fillers for a lot of materials including rubber and EPDM. Injection Moulded Natural Fibre PP Components (Photo: Ford) Ford also applies a lot of natural fiber reinforced materials, as most automotive companies have been doing for many years. Most of these are compression moulded 12 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4

Automotive Corn-based headrest bag Corn-based fabric Natural fiber reinforced PP Soy-based PU foam Sugarcane-based PP side shields Upcycled water bottles to PBT seat clips Ford’s EnviroSeat (source: Ford) kg CO 2 emissions per vehicle applications using conventional thermoplastics. For the Ford Taurus X, for example, the third row seat back is made of kenaf reinforced PP (50% by weight NF loading). In addition Ford is looking into injection moldable, natural fiber reinforced resins – including PLA. “Research is going on in our laboratories,” says Ellen, “that also includes thermoset materials such as SMC with soy or corn based matrix materials and natural fibers as reinforcement.“ In terms of PLA, besides injection moldable natural fiber reinforced applications, Ford is evaluating the use of films and fibers/textiles. “Currently the PLA materials that are commercially available on a large scale don’t offer the durability that we need for internal applications,” Ellen points out, ”so that one of our focus points – together with the raw material suppliers – is to try to increase that durability for hot and humid climates.” At NatureWorks’ ‘Innovation takes Root’ conference last September in Las Vegas, Ellen highlighted Ford CEO Alan 100 80 60 40 20 0 -20 -40 Conventional Seat EnviroSeat Foam Fabric + film Side shields Seat back Total Environmental impact of Ford’s EnviroSeat (source: Ford) Reduced environmental impact Mulally’s commitment to offer their customers affordable, environmentally friendly technologies in their vehicles. This translates down into their fundamental work to improve the performance specifically of Ingeo PLA resin in injection molding via crystallinity modification. Starting from a comprehensive review of automotive requirements, from temperature, to moisture, to scuff, dent, and ding resistance in exterior parts, UV weathering characteristics, and for underhood applications, corrosion and cyclic fatigue resistance, Ellen highlighted where Ford sees potential for Ingeo in automotive applications in the shorter term. In textiles, this includes, carpet, floor mats, and upholstery; in interior parts, in injection molded applications such as trim, knobs, buttons, and nonappearance parts; and finally, in Ford’s own manufacturing processes, in packaging and protective wrap. Other biobased materials which Ford is currently working on include thermoset polyesters with bio and recycled contents, Polyolefins derived from renewable resources (e.g., sugarcane) and more. The picture above shows Ford’s so called ‘EnviroSeat’, a study of which parts of a seat could be made of materials coming from renewable resources. Toyota Toyota Motor Corporation have announced plans to increase the use of plant-derived, carbon-neutral plastics in more vehicle models, starting with a new hybrid vehicle this year. Carbon-neutral in Toyota’s understanding means zero net CO 2 emissions over the entire lifecycle of the product. Toyota’s newly developed plastics, collectively bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/09] Vol. 4 13

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