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Issue 01/2021

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  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Automotive Foam Basics: Enzymes

Automotive Automotive

Automotive Automotive supplier launches PLA compounds The automotive industry is increasingly working on aligning vehicle production with the principles of sustainability. The development of appropriate materials plays a decisive role in this process. Röchling Automotive, an automotive supplier based in Mannheim Germany, has already started a biopolymer project in 2010, but the market at the time had not been quite ready. Now, Röchling believes, it is. A good decade later interest in alternative materials, as well as recycled materials is rising. BioBoom is the name of Röchling’s patented polylactide (PLA)-based biopolymer that consists of at least 90 % renewable raw materials. It offers an ecological, as well as an economical alternative to most conventional materials. Three standard types within the BioBoom family are currently available, which are suitable for applications in the engine compartment and underbody as well as for the interior of a vehicle. Each of the three types can be tailored to individual customer needs and their respective specific requirements. Röchling’s BioBoom can also be used for almost their entire product portfolio (around 70 %). With significant improvements in terms of thermal stability and chemical resistance compared to standard PLA, the new biopolymer family meets the company’s high technical requirements and specifications. More concrete, some material grades can withstand continuous operating temperatures of up to 150°C (as a counter-example, PP maxes out at around 130–140°C). Most parts under the hood should not reach these temperatures for longer durations Air under normal operation. filter box “That doesn’t mean that black the parts break if these temperatures are exceeded, but we noticed an increased material degradation above 150°C. Our parts need to fulfil a certain engineering standard, they need to hold for 15 years or 300,000 km. In the applications that reach these temperatures, we compare our material to specific PA6 and PA66,” explains Fabrizio Barillari, Global Product Portfolio Manager for Battery Systems and Bio Material at Röchling. “We tried to get the biocontent as high as possible, 30–40 % that’s not what we at Röchling consider biobased but 100 % pure biobased just doesn’t work with PLA.” To gain the needed material properties the PLA is then reinforced with glass fibres, but Röchling seeks to replace that with natural fibres in the future. Another base weakness of PLA according to Barillari is continuous exposure to water in combination with high temperatures. While he is proud of their relatively low moisture absorption of 1–1.2 % (ISO standard) he acknowledges that, for example, for cooling systems with continuous temperatures of 90–100°C BioBoom is not an option. “No material is perfect. We know this, but we can guarantee that our material holds up to 65°C in areas where humidity is a factor.” BioBoom enables greenhouse gas emissions that are about 70 % lower than those of PP and almost 90 % lower than those of PA6. This means that if the proportion of petrochemical plastics in a mid-sized car is replaced by Röchling Automotive’s bioplastics, 515 kilograms of CO 2 emissions can be saved per vehicle production. Front grille closures in various colors High gloss black interior air vent insert 20 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/21] Vol. 16

To put these numbers in perspective, Volvo released some data comparing the LCAs of their full electric Polestar 2 with the Volvo XC40 based on their carbon footprint. This analysis compared, among other things, the CO 2 emissions during production. While the Polestar 2 has an overall lower impact on the environment it produces more CO 2 in the production with 24 tonnes vs the XC40 with 14 tonnes. This explains the current focus of most big automotive companies on making battery production more sustainable. “It is not only the emissions that a vehicle produces when used that matters. We should look at the entire value chain. From well to wheel, including the energy needed to produce the vehicle, the energy that it consumes while in use, and end of life management,” says Barillari, ”producing battery systems more sustainable is important, but looking at alternative materials should run parallel to that. And we at Röchling Automotive have the expertise to adjust material properties to the individual needs of our customers.” In the end what Röchling can offer with their BioBoom is a CO 2 reduction in the production phase of 4–5 % for a midsized car, which is no small feat. And as the automotive industry has come under increased scrutiny in the last years By: Alex Thielen (partially due to the emissions scandal of 2015) Röchling tries to make their process of sourcing their material as transparent as possible for their customers. To that end, Röchling has acquired a number of certifications for their BioBoom material which is, among other things, REACHcompliant and has further been certified by Bonsucro, an NGO that focuses on sustainable sugarcane production. One issue that hampers the big entry from automotive companies is a lack of a supply guarantee. Röchling plans to fill that gap and become a leading supplier in biobased and recycled material for the automotive industry in the coming decades. But Röchling’s vision for bioplastics goes beyond just their automotive branch, the self-proclaimed plastics pioneer wants to become a leading supplier of bioplastic products in the next 10–15 years across all branches of the Röchling group. With the newly developed biopolymer family, Röchling Automotive has already successfully initiated this important transformation process. The company plans to hit the market with their BioBoom this year. AT | Automotive Organiser Contact Dominik Vogt Tel.: +49 2233 / 481449 Innovation Award Sponsor New Market Solutions – Cross-sectoral Networking Opportunities – Sustainable Future of Chemicals and Materials A unique concept to present all sustainable and renewable material solutions at one event: bio-based, CO 2 -based and recycled Gold Sponsor • Renewable Chemicals and Building-Blocks • Fine Chemicals • Biorefineries • Chemical Recycling • Renewable Polymers and Plastics • Renewable Plastics and Composites • Biodegradation APPLY FOR Renewable Material of the Year 2021! bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/21] Vol. 16 21

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