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Issue 01/2016

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Automotive Foam Basics: Public Procurement

Automotive Biocomposites

Automotive Biocomposites in the automotive industry By: Michael Carus and Asta Partanen Nova-Institute Hürth, Germany “Nature 50 – long fibre” for injection moulding with a cold-press method. These long fibre pellets with more than 50 % hemp fibre content, polypropylene and additives are produced with pellet technology. They can be used for injection moulded parts with standard machines and standard tools as a substitution of PC/ABS with 20 % glass fibre content. Their fibre structure gives them a unique look and makes them suitable also for use outside the automotive industry. (courtesy HIB TRIM PART SOLUTIONS) The second biggest application sector for biocomposites is the automotive interior sector. The main application is the construction sector and third is consumer goods. At the world’s largest conference on Wood-Plastic Composites (WPC) and Natural Fibre Composites (NFC) with more than 220 participants in December 2015 in Cologne, Germany (see p. 8), one extended session informed about the latest status of biocomposites in the automotive industry. Biocomposites contain wood or natural fibres or/and biobased polymers. So far, almost all biocomposites contain wood or natural fibres, but only a few using biobased polymers. Experts speak about Wood-Plastic Composites (WPC) and Natural Fibre Composites (NFC). Especially in the interior applications in middle and high class cars, NFC are well established and a growing market. The dominating technology is compression moulding, with a natural fibre nonwoven fleece. One of the leading experts is Werner Klusmeier (Yanfeng Europe Automotive Interior Systems (formerly JCI)) and speaker at the conference summarized: “There is a diversity of reasons for the use of natural fibres: Advantages in the ecological footprint, affordable production costs as well as good acoustic and mechanical properties. Furthermore, natural fibre reinforced plastics convince with their low weight. They enable savings in mass of up to 30 % – which is a decisive plus in times of lightweight construction. Natural fibre composites have been and are still further developed in terms of lightweight construction and strength. They have become integral parts of the automotive industry.” The combination of compression moulding and simultaneous back injection moulding can bring further weight reduction, as Tayfun Buzkan and Motoki Maekawa from Toyota Boshoku Europe demonstrated in their presentation. The material performance completely meets automotive requirements and reduces production time. Developments in the use of biobased polymers in the automotive industry were shown by Global Marketing Director bioplastics at Corbion Purac, François de Bie, together Biocomposites with Natural Fibres, Wood Fibres and Recycled Cotton in the European Automotive Production in 2012 Biocomposites Natural Fibre Composites Wood-Plastic Composites Recycled Cotton Reinforced Plastics Volume fibres in tonnes in 2012 Volume biocomposites in tonnes in 2012 30,000 60,000 30,000 60,000 Processing technologies 95 % compression moulding, 5 % injection moulding & others 45 % extrusion & thermoforming, 50 % compression moulding & others 5 % injection moulding Matrice 55 % thermoplastics, 45 % thermosets Extrusion: 100 % thermoplastics, compression moulding: >90 % thermoset 20,000 30,000 mainly compression moulding >90 % thermoset Total 80,000 150,000 16 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/16] Vol. 11

Automotive with Francesca Brunori from Röchling Automotive. They presented their latest cooperation results on high heat PLA 100% biobased natural fibre filled compounds with injection and compression moulding. The material is ready to use and Röchling is already in contact with different OEMs (see also page 15). Experts expect a growth in injection moulding for WPC and NFC: So far, also mainly small producers and traders were offering WPC and NFC granulates with a limited technical support and often missing data for simulations. But also this is changing since big global players are offering their new developed materials: “Sustainable Light weighting Thermoplastic Solutions for Automotives” (see also page 12) was presented by Marc Mézailles from PolyOne Global Engineered Materials. This innovation from PolyOne breaks the conventional material property balance and opens the industrial use of natural fibres reinforced solutions in many demanding end applications and markets, including automotive, with a 5 to 10% light weighting potential vs. standard solutions. The material has a typical 30% fibre content, the fibre is an engineered industrial wood fibre, and a new coupling technology as well as a specific compounding process is used. PolyOne a first official OEM approval on a critical semi-structural application, and continues to be evaluated by several key OEMs and their Tier One suppliers. Today, as the last survey from nova-Institute showed, about 4 kg natural and wood fibres per vehicle in average are used European automotive production; but vehicles with considerably larger amounts of 20 kg natural and wood fibres have been successfully produced in series for years and could credit these amounts in the future. Most experts expect a continuously growth in the use of WPC and especially NFC in the automotive industry because of the high light weight potential of these materials, the continuously improvement of technologies and properties and new professional players. The combination with biobased polymers to realize fully biobased biocomposites is just starting and could become an additional market for biobased polymers such as PLA or PBS. This table is showing the main reason, why Natural Fibre Composites (NFC) are such an exciting material for the automotive industry NF compression moulded – superior lightweight properties Automotive interior parts Area weight in g/m 2 WPC – extruded and moulded 2,500 Injection moulded pure plastc or glass fibre reinforced plastics >2,200 Compression moulded PP-NF 1,800 Compression moulded PP-NF with bonding agent MAPP 1,500 Compression moulded thermosets-NF 1,400 – 1,500 Compression moulded thermosets-NF In development, production expected after 2018 800 – 1,000 All figures and tables are teken from the study “Wood-Plastic Composites (WPC) and Natural Fibre Composites (NFC): European and Global Markets 2012 and Future Trends in Automotive and Construction“. The full study can be downloaded at All presentations of the conference are now available at bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/16] Vol. 11 17

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