In a joint project, BASF and STR Automotive have brought components for premium vehicles into series production for the first time using the new material Elastolit R 8819 Lightweight. In comparison to conventional processing with polyurethane reaction injection (PU-RRIM) materials, the new process provides significant weight reduction. The usual component... Read more →

Jaguar Land Rover is testing an innovative recycling process which converts plastic waste into a new premium grade material that could feature on future vehicles. The amount of waste plastic is predicted to exceed 12 million tonnes globally by 2050. Today, not all of this plastic can be recycled for... Read more →

Researchers at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China report a two-step method for the synthesis of jet-fuel-range high-density polycycloalkanes from polycarbonate waste under mild conditions. An open-access paper on their work appears in the RSC journal Green Chemistry. Plastics are a family of organic polymers which are widely... Read more →

BASF to build engineering plastics and thermoplastic polyurethanes plants at new $10B Verbund site in Zhanjiang

BASF plans to build an engineering plastics compounding plant and a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) plant at the company’s proposed integrated chemical production (“Verbund”) site in Zhanjiang, China. These will be the first production plants to come onstream at the site. The Verbund site in Guangdong would be BASF’s largest investment,... Read more →

Researchers from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China have selectively synthesized gasoline- and jet-fuel range C7-C8 cycloalkanes and aromatics by the methanolysis of poly(ethyleneterephthalate) (PET) waste, followed by the solvent-free hydrogenation and hydrodeoxygenation (HDO). The C7-C8 cycloalkanes and aromatics can be used as gasoline or additives to improve... Read more →

U of I team uses frontal polymerization for rapid energy-efficient manufacturing of polymers; saving 10 orders of magnitude of energy

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new polymer-curing process that could reduce the cost, time and energy needed, compared with the current manufacturing process. The findings, reported in Nature, state that the new polymerization process uses 10 orders of magnitude less energy and can cut two orders... Read more →

Teijin Limited has developed a formable gasoline-resistant film made of PLANEXT bioplastic to replace chrome plating, which Honda Lock Mfg. Co., Ltd. has now adopted for nonconductive door handles integrated with smart-entry systems. Teijin developed the innovative film using a special metal-evaporation technology from a processing-manufacturer partner. Teijin is currently... Read more →

Magna is using a torsional welding process for joining thermoplastic materials in order to help automakers cut weight and costs. The torsional welding process, developed by Magna for automotive applications at its exteriors plant in Liberec, Czech Republic, in collaboration with Telsonic Ultrasonics, features a high-speed twisting motion that creates... Read more →

Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials, has partnered with Mahle GmbH to replace metal end caps with high-heat-resistant plastics in charge air cooler (CAC) applications. This change has led to improved engine performance, better fuel efficiency and reduced system costs. Metal end caps in... Read more →

A team of chemical and biological engineers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has developed a new chemical pathway a way to produce from biomass a valuable compound—1,5-pentanediol, a plastic precursor primarily used to make polyurethanes and polyester plastics—that they estimate could lower the cost of cellulosic ethanol by more than... Read more →

Researchers at Washington State University have developed a novel route for the production of jet fuel range alkanes at high carbon yields from plastics. The process combines catalytic microwave-assisted degradation of low-density polyethylene (a model compound of plastics waste) followed by hydrogenation. In a paper published in the journal Fuel,... Read more →

ExxonMobil & Georgia Tech CMS membrane brings advantages of reverse osmosis separations to hydrocarbon mixtures; potential significant cuts in chemical manufacturing energy use & emissions

Scientists from ExxonMobil and the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed new free-standing carbon molecular sieve (CMS) membrane technology that could significantly reduce the amount of energy and emissions associated with manufacturing plastics. Results of the research were published in Science. Using a molecular-level filter, the new process employs a... Read more →

Ford, Jose Cuervo team up to make car parts with bioplastic reinforced with blue agave fibers

Ford Motor Company is teaming up with Jose Cuervo to explore the use of the tequila producer’s blue agave plant fiber byproduct to develop more sustainable bioplastics to employ in Ford vehicles. Ford and Jose Cuervo are testing the agave-fiber-reinforced bioplastic for use in vehicle interior and exterior components such... Read more →

Catalytic pyrolysis company Anellotech, which focuses on producing cost-competitive BTX (benzene, toluene and xylene) from non-food biomass, revealed Toyota Tsusho Corporation as a multinational strategic equity investor and corporate partner in the renewable aromatic chemicals supply chain. The renewable aromatic chemical can be used use in making plastics such as... Read more →

UK-based Recycling Technologies is industrializing a process—originally developed at the University of Warwick (UK)—to convert residual plastic waste into a low-sulfur hydrocarbon compound called Plaxx. Plaxx is created from residual mixed plastic waste that is not amenable to direct recycling and would otherwise go to landfill. The company, a 2013... Read more →

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a new class of high-performance thermoplastic elastomers for cars and other consumer products by replacing the styrene in ABS (acrylonitrile, butadiene and styrene) with lignin, a brittle, rigid polymer that, with cellulose, forms the woody cell walls of plants. In doing... Read more →

Solvay participating in Polimotor 2 carbon fiber reinforced polymer engine project

Solvay is taking a “leadership role” in the development of the Polimotor 2 all-plastic automotive engine to be tested in a race car next year, demonstrating the company’s advanced specialty polymer technologies in light-weighting through metal replacement. The collaborative project is intended ultimately to set the stage for innovative breakthroughs... Read more →

The IBM-led researchers show that the formation of a trifunctional cross-link point through reaction of a diamine and paraformaldehyde leads to a thermally stable and mechanically ductile thermoset. Low pH triggers the reversal of the thermoset architecture to the corresponding monomers. Credit: K. Zhang/Virginia Tech. Click to enlarge. Using a... Read more →

Early version of CRP-based armrest piece under development. Source: Weyerhaeuser. Click to enlarge. A three-year collaboration between Lincoln, Weyerhaeuser and auto parts supplier Johnson Controls has resulted in the creation of a tree-based, renewable alternative to fiberglass for use in auto parts. (Earlier post.) The 2014 Lincoln MKX features the... Read more →

ARPA-E awarding $3.5M to Berkeley Lab project to develop novel enzymatic gas-to-liquids pathway

On 19 September, the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $34 million to 15 projects to find advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation. (Earlier post.) The largest award in the technical area of High-Efficiency Biological Methane Activation in the new program, (Reducing Emissions... Read more →

Fiat 500L using SABIC polycarbonate glazing materials in rear fixed side windows; lighter weight than glass

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation’s (SABIC) Innovative Plastics business is marking continued progress in the adoption of its polycarbonate (PC) glazing materials for automotive window applications with Fiat’s new 500L multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), which features rear fixed side windows molded from SABIC’s clear LEXAN GLX resin and black CYCOLOY resin. These... Read more →

TenCate and BASF enter strategic alliance for thermoplastic automotive composites for high-volume production

TenCate Advanced Composites and BASF have entered into a strategic alliance to cooperate on the development, production and commercialization of thermoplastic composite materials suitable for high-volume vehicle production. The main goal of this partnership is to offer car manufacturers custom-engineered solutions for high-performance composite structures, which enable this industry to... Read more →

Researchers optimize production of high-quality transportation fuels from LDPE plastics

Researchers in Spain have obtained high-quality transportation fuels (gasoline with RON >80 and diesel with cetane number >70) from oil obtained by the thermal cracking of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) using a bifunctional catalyst comprising Ni (7 wt %) deposited on a hierarchical Beta zeolite (Ni/h-Beta). A paper on their work... Read more →

Iron projecting into the center of the tube-like metal-organic framework (center, looking down its roughly nanometer-wide opening) attracts the light hydrocarbon molecules that surround it to varying degrees. These varied attraction levels could make the framework more efficient at hydrocarbon separation than current refinery processes. Credit: Bloch et al. Click... Read more →

Injection molded plastic parts with steel cord reinforcement. Source: BASF. Click to enlarge. BASF, Bekaert (Belgium) and voestalpine Plastics Solutions (Netherlands) are developing thermoplastic components that are reinforced with steel cord fabrics and produced by means of injection molding. The three companies have joined together with the objective of employing... Read more →

New polycarbonate-ABS blend roof element debuts with new Mercedes SLK; transparent panorama roof an option

A new application of polycarbonate-ABS blends (PC+ABS) is premiering together with the new Mercedes SLK. The base version of the convertible is equipped with an electrohydraulic vario roof system having a roughly 0.8 square meter roof element of Bayblend T85 XF from Bayer MaterialScience. The modular vario roof system for... Read more →

Relaxed surface structures of the MWW and MFI nanosheets. Si, O, and H atoms are colored in yellow, red, and white, respectively. (A and B) MWW nanosheet viewed along the a (or b) axis (A) and along the c axis (B). (C and D) MFI nanosheet viewed along the c... Read more →

2010 global automotive materials market by revenue (top) and volume (bottom). Source: Frost & Sullivan. Click to enlarge. A new report from Frost & Sullivan, “Prevalent Substitution Trends within Materials and Chemicals in Automotive Lightweighting”, finds that the lightweight automotive materials market (metals and plastics) earned revenues of $38 billion... Read more →

Ford cylinder head cover made with EcoLon resin. Click to enlarge. Ford is using EcoLon, a nylon resin made from 100% recycled carpet, to make the cylinder head covers on some Ford engines. The EcoLon material is produced by Wellman Engineering Resins; the cylinder head covers are manufactured by Dana... Read more →

Schematic of MuCell injection molding process (injection molding of microcellular plastics with characteristic microstructures). Kramschuster et al. 2005. Click to enlarge. Ford researchers have been investigating the use of the MuCell microcellular foam injection molding process to reduce component weight; weight reduction is a key Ford strategy to help lower... Read more →

Steps in recycling the booms to auto parts. Click to enlarge. General Motors has developed a method to convert an estimated 100 miles of the oil-laden plastic boom material used to soak up oil from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year into parts for the... Read more →

Toyota to Use Bio-PET “Ecological Plastic” in Vehicle Interiors

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) plans to make vehicle liner material and other interior surfaces from a new bio-PET-based “Ecological Plastic”. Bio-PET is polyethylene terephthalate; it consists of 70% terephthalic acid and 30% monoethylene glycol, by weight. Bio-PET is made by replacing monoethylene glycol with a biological raw material derived from... Read more →

Fraunhofer Researchers Develop New Method for Mass Production of Lightweight Thermoplastic Fiber Composite Components

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztal (Germany) have developed a new method for the production of thermoplastic fiber composite materials designed for large-scale use in vehicle construction. Once these materials have reached end of life, they can be shredded, melted down and reused to produce... Read more →

Under hood applications for Zytel PLUS. Click to enlarge. A new nylon family—DuPont Zytel PLUS—and new materials to enable laser welding techniques were the focus of two DuPont Automotive Performance Polymers talks presented recently at the SPE Automotive Engineering Plastics Conference (AutoEPCON) at the Michigan State University (MSU) Management Education... Read more →

Frost & Sullivan Outlines Opportunities for Chemical Companies in the Changing Automotive Sector

According to Frost & Sullivan, opportunities exist for chemical companies in the automotive sector as dramatic shifts in business models occur and the types of vehicles being produced change. Electric vehicles provide just one example of many new revenue streams available to chemical companies this decade. However, chemical companies must... Read more →

SABIC Innovative Plastics Introduces New Portfolio of Materials Targeted at Hybrid and EV Battery Packs

SABIC Innovative Plastics used Chinaplas 2010 in Shanghai as the venue to introduce a new portfolio of advanced Noryl and Valox automotive resins targeted for use in battery packs for hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and battery electric vehicles (BEV). SABIC Innovative Plastics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi... Read more →

The Nepol GB215HP-based dashboard carrier for the latest 7 Series is up to 20% lighter. Click to enlarge. Borealis’ Nepol GB215HP, a tailor-made long glass fibre polypropylene (LGF-PP), is the material behind BMW’s development of an up to 20% lighter, single material dashboard carrier solution for its 7 Series models.... Read more →

Low wear, low friction injection moulded bushings, made of DuPont Vespel TP polyimide, are used to precisely guide the operating rods of EGR poppet valves manufactured by Wahler. Click to enlarge. In another example of the increasing use of plastics in the powertrain (earlier post), Gustav Wahler GmbH & Co.... Read more →

Novozymes in Two New Research Partnerships in Brazil; Biogas from Bagasse and Polypropylene from Sugarcane

Novozymes, an international enzymes and microorganisms company, has entered two new research partnerships in Brazil. A partnership with Cetrel, the largest provider of environmental solutions for the manufacturing industry in Latin America, is focused on the production of biogas from sugarcane bagasse using enzymes. The biogas can be used to... Read more →

Delphi’s award winning ultra-light radio. Click to enlarge. Delphi Corporation’s ultra light radio design with insert-molded electro magnetic compatibility (EMC) shielding, available on Chevrolet and GMC full size pick-ups and sport utility vehicles, won top recognition at the 39th Annual Society of Plastics Engineers International (SPE) Automotive Innovation Awards ceremony,... Read more →