US Ford to increase use of A Schulman's wheat-straw PP

13 September 2010 20:19  [Source: ICIS news]

BOSTON (ICIS)--US car manufacturer Ford Motor is increasing its use of A Schulman's wheat straw-based polypropylene (PP) for injection moulding materials, a company official said on Monday.

“Our aim is to replace fibreglass and mineral reinforcements with natural fibre for injection moulding materials,” said Ellen Lee, technical expert in plastics research and advanced engineering at Ford, in a presentation at the Bio-based Chemicals East conference in Boston.

Replacing glass fibre, mica and talc as fillers in polypropylene composites could reduce costs by up to 10%, while replacing acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) with wheat straw-based PP could cut costs by 10-15%, said Lee.

Using natural fibre as opposed to fibreglass and talc in reinforced PP would also drop weight by 10%, she added.

Ford is currently using wheat straw-reinforced PP resin in third-row storage bins of its 2010 Flex car models. That should reduce 20,000 lb/year of the company’s petroleum use, said Lee.

Ford announced plans to use Schulman's Agriplas composite in November 2009.

Other bio-based resins the company said it was considering include polylactic acid (PLA) from corn, sweet potatotes and sugarcane; PTT (polytrimethylene teraphthalate) fibres made from DuPont’s corn-based Sorona;  corn-based PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate); and nylons made from castor oil-based polyamides.

Ford is already using soybean-based polyurethane foams for seating applications.

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By: Doris de Guzman
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