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Coverstory Image 4. The

Coverstory Image 4. The cover must break open in a defined manner, without any form of flying particles and should provide minimal resistance to the inflating airbag. The renewably-sourced Hytrel was able to fulfill these requirements in the same way as the fossil-fuel based grade. Image 5. Renewably-sourced Zytel RS nylon is highly suitable as a material for the production of airbag inflator retainers, for instance. Airbag deployment trials, carried out with these samples (Image 4) at 85 °C and at –35 °C, also confirm the similarity of the two material grades: the opening forces were the same, and the inflation times were within the OEM-specified requirement of 3 to 5 ms in both cases. The tear lines were identical, and there was no sign of any flying particles during testing of any of the covers made of Hytrel RS, regardless of temperature. Further testing at Takata-Petri investigated paint adhesion. A water-based coating was applied to the sample parts under normal production conditions before carrying out an assessment of their scratch resistance. Following hydrolysis storage (72 h at 90 °C ± 2 °C and ≥ 96 % r. h.) there was no change in terms of color and touch. The samples withstood the cross cut test according to standard EN ISO 2409, and met requirements relating to scratch resistance according to the VW standard PV 3952 with the outcome: no laceration of the coating through to the substrate. A Takata-Petri boiling test also revealed no changes in surface properties. A dimensional check was carried out following the coating process. In both cases, the results were within the admissible tolerances for the conventional Hytrel DYM 250 grade. Successful trial of renewably-sourced nylon On the basis of the unexceptionally positive test results of the airbag cover made of renewably-sourced Hytrel, Takata-Petri is currently evaluating the airbag inflator retainer as a further component within the airbag system where a fossil-fuel based material could be replaced. To date it is produced using a 40 wt.% glass-fiber reinforced grade of nylon (PA) 6. DuPont has also developed a special, renewably-sourced, glass-fiber reinforced and impact-modified Zytel ® RS 1 ) for this application. It is able to at least match the basic properties of the standard PA 6 grade in terms of stiffness, impact resistance, strength, dimensional stability and warpage resistance, or, in some cases, due to its lower moisture absorption compared to PA6, shows even superior performance. As illustrated by tests carried out on sample parts (Image 5) to date, the new, renewably-sourced PA is highly suitable for the production of inflator retainers. It may also be assumed that the superior mechanical properties associated with the advantages in moisture absorption could possibly enable a further optimization of wall thickness. 1) The Zytel RS nylon family from DuPont includes products based on PA1010 and PA610 as well as their copolymers and blends with other polymers. Zytel RS consists up to 98 % of plant-based raw materials. The basis for the raw material is provided in most cases by sebacic acid, which is extracted from the castor-oil plant. Our cover girl Claudia is ready to get behind the wheel of renewably-sourced polymers. “I had never thought about biobased plastics before, the need for truly sustainable solutions is one of the most important challenges today,” she says… 14 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/11] Vol. 6

Automotive Development of Biocomposites for Automotive Engineering By Stephan Kabasci Pia Borelbach Frauhofer UMSICHT The European Research Project ECOplast is dedicated to the research into novel biocomposite materials based on renewable resources for applications in automotive engineering. The project consortium incorporates 13 partners coming from 5 European countries and is led by the Spanish Galician Automotive Technological Centre (CTAG). An increasing ecological awareness along with new legislation has boosted the demand for products with a high ecological image. The automotive industry in particular has set a target to improve its carbon balance, along with increasing the use of biomaterials in automobiles. The characteristics of bioplastics which are available nowadays have to be adapted to meet the requirements of the automobile industry. Within the framework of this 4 years ECOplast project, researchers from science and industry are aiming to develop novel thermoplastic biomass-based composites through the conception and modulation of new molecular architectures in polylactic acid (PLA), through the improvement of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) properties, adapting their structure and nature to automotive specifications, and through the synthesis of a new protein-based copolymer using silk-like crystalline and elastine-like flexible blocks. The technical performances of the developed base biopolymers will be enhanced by means of addition of natural fibres and wood based reinforcements modified to guarantee optimal composite properties and processing, the development of new fibrilar natural nanofillers to optimize stability during processing, mechanical and thermal resistance etc. and organic mineral fillers to minimize the moisture absorbency and to improve dimensional stability. Another important objective of the project will be the adaptation of conventional processing techniques (polymers compounding, injection moulding and thermoforming) and other novel techniques to these new biocomposites. The challenge here will be to overcome the problem of properties distortion because of the extreme thermal conditions, the moisture absorbency and the machine degradation due to corrosion reactions and accelerated by the gases generated inside the screw. The main innovation in ECOplast project will be to find the perfect equilibrium between the optimization of novel base biopolymers, new fillers and fibres functionalization to reduce deviations of base biopolymers from standards, and optimum processing design to avoid the deterioration of mechanical performances and to allow a wide processing window in order to meet the automotive requirements. The partners involved in the project are: • Centro Tecnológico de Automoción de Galicia (CTAG), Spain (coordinator) • Asociación de Investigación de Materiales Plásticos y Conexas – AIMPLAS, Spain • PIEP Associação – Polo de Inovação em Engenharía de Polímeros, Portugal • Biomer, Germany • FKuR Kunststoff GmbH, Germany • Fraunhofer-Institut für Umwelt-, Sicherheits- und Energietechnik UMSICHT, Germany • Grupo Antolín – Ingeniería S.A., Spain • Megatech Industries Amurrio S.L. (MEGATECH), Spain • NanoBioMatters R&D (NMB), Spain • Pallmann Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co, Germany • PURAC, Netherlands • University of Minho (UMINHO), Portugal • VTT – Technical Research Centre of Finland, Finland bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/11] Vol. 6 15

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