Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mazda Sets Sights on Bio-Based Polypropylene

source: http://www.prw.com/homePBP_NADetail_UP.aspx?ID_Site=818&ID_Article=24847&mode=1&curpage=0

By Chris Smith

Bioplastic PP that ‘will not risk competition with food production’.

17 June 2008 –Mazda has signed a collaborative research agreement with Hiroshima University to develop a range of polypropylene bioplastics for automotive use from non-food derived cellulosic biomass.

The project will use so-called “second generation” bioplastics manufacturing technology making use of non-edible high cellulose content vegetable matter such as plant stalks or wood shavings.

This will be used to create a range of bioplastics that - unlike current bioplastic resins produced from corn, maize, or sugar cane and beet feedstocks - will not risk competition with food production.

The Japanese car maker and its academic partners hope to have a cellulosic-derived bioplastics material ready for use in car components by 2013.

Mazda director and senior executive officer in charge of R&D, Seita Kanai, said: “Development of a non-food-based bioplastic made from sustainable plant resources has great potential in the fight against global warming, and can help allay global food supply concerns.”

Kanai added: “Through this cooperation, we intend to strengthen Hiroshima’s position as a centre for biomass research and develop technology that can be used throughout the world.”

The project will focus on designing a process for production of a polypropylene resin with the strength and durability required for car bumper and instrument panel applications. It will involve converting cellulosic biomass to ethanol and then investigating various blends of ethylene and propylene.

Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) will also be taking part in the bioplastic project.

One of the challenges in producing ethanol from cellulosic materials, rather than starch or sugar, is the fermentation technology. This is likely to require specially developed bacteria.

Mazda’s previous bioplastic research project resulted ! in the d evelopment of a PLA-based fabric for use in seating and a number of improved heat resistance compounds. These have been showcased in the Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid concept car, which the company said it hopes to make available in Japan on a lease hire basis this year.

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