Currently, petroleum-derived plastics are used in various parts of automobiles. New materials are being sought that eliminate petroleum-resource dependence, cut CO2 emissions and enable fuel economy to be improved through decreased car weight.
Bioplastic with high strength and heat resistance
The bioplastics presently used in household electronic products, however, lack the strength (impact resistance) and heat resistance required for automotive applications. In collaboration with industry-academia-government, Mazda has developed the world's first bioplastic that can successfully be employed in car production.
This material boasts sufficient surface quality to facilitate use as interior trim and the strength and heat resistance required for exterior automotive applications.
The improvements have been achieved through additives to conventional bioplastics, increasing strength (impact resistance) three-fold and raising heat resistance by 25 percent.
Reducing CO2 emissions, energy use and materials consumption
Bioplastics are carbon-neutral* materials derived from plants. They also reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, thus producing less CO2.
Additionally, the production process involves the fermentation of starches and sugars contained in plants, so the energy used during production is approximately 30 percent lower than a typical plastic such as polypropylene. Also, the bioplastic's high rigidity means thinner parts can be molded, which leads directly to savings in the amount of raw plastic needed.
* The CO2 discharged during decomposition and combustion of bioplastics is offset by the CO2 that the plants, which are used to produce the plastic, absorb through photosynthesis. Carbon-neutral is a characteristic of materials that do not increase or decrease the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.