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Bioplastics Make First Foray into Demanding Automotive Underhood Applications

SpecialChem / May 3, 2011

Bioplastics have gradually been incorporated into components for passenger vehicles since the 1990s. Until recently though, most of these materials have been characterized by poor mechanical properties, so were relegated to very undemanding applications. However, that is changing as a new generation of bioplastics begins fulfilling the real promise of plant-based polymers by moving into more structural applications in far more demanding end-use environments. They can help reduce the total carbon footprint of vehicle production and use, since each plant used to produce monomer sequesters carbon during its growth cycle, helping make part production something closer to carbon neutral. A really good example of how new-generation bioplastics are beginning to be used in more challenging applications is the injection-molded, glass-reinforced polyamide (PA, also known as nylon) 6/10 radiator end tanks on Toyota Motor Corp.'s 2010MY Camry® sedan. A joint-development effort between DuPont Automotive and systems supplier and materials processor, DENSO Corp., which also produced the tooling, the polymer used in these parts is 40% by weight bioplastic, derived from monomer from castor bean oil.

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