Faurecia has been conducting research into bioplastics derived from 100% natural materials since 2006 (BioMat project) and has now signed an exclusive industrial partnership agreement with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation to co-develop bioplastics designed for mass-production of the lightweight materials for use in automotive interiors. Faurecia plans to develop a full range of bioplastics, which are set to see a boom in the 2015 to 2020 period.
According to the companies, the environmental constraints associated with vehicle weight reduction and the regulations intended to increase the recyclability of materials used in the automotive industry (85% in Europe by 2015) call for increased use of new materials derived from natural resources, which will ultimately replace petroleum-based plastics. This initiative also aims to ensure that the materials used have a positive impact on the product lifecycle (from initial extraction through to end-of-life).
The objective of the joint Faurecia-Mitsubishi Chemical program is to develop a lightweight polymer that can be used in mass-production for automotive interior parts (door panel trim strip, structural instrument panel and console inserts, air ducts, door panel inserts, etc.). The joint development will start by modifying Mitsubishi Chemical’s patented biomass-derived poly-butylene succinate (PBS) and ultimately target to be produced from 100% bio sources.
Nicolas Pechnyk, Vice President Engineering for Faurecia Interior Systems, explains: “This strategic agreement with Mitsubishi Chemical will make Faurecia the first automotive equipment supplier to mass-produce a 100% bio-based plastic. We are confident about the future of this technology as a substitute for petroleum-based plastic components; indeed, it is one of the main thrusts of our strategic initiative ‘bio-attitude’.”
Shigeru Handa, General Manager of Mitsubishi Chemical’s Sustainable Resources Business Development Department, comments: “We are convinced that Faurecia’s commitment to sustainability is in line with Mitsubishi Chemical’s “KAITEKI” concept. We believe our strengths in biotechnology, polymer development, and patent position will contribute to this partnership with Faurecia”.