US General Motors finds bio-based materials challenging to use

17 February 2011 01:56  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN DIEGO, California (ICIS)--US carmaker General Motors (GM) finds bio-based materials and chemicals challenging to use in the production of its vehicles because of price premium and a lack of specification information, a company official said on Wednesday.

“Our engineers would like to introduce more bio-based materials into our cars but they don’t completely understand and know more about their properties and specifications,” said Lucie Duesterhoeft, a senior researcher for global R&D at General Motors.

“We need to find a better way to overcome these challenges and that is what we are doing now at this conference,” she said at a panel discussion at the Bio-Based Chemicals summit sponsored by Infocast in San Diego, California.

Duesterhoeft also noted that customers were still not willing to pay a price premium for any bio-based materials.

GM said it was using more recycled materials to achieve its own sustainability goals. The company was also working on modifying its car engines to be able to use biofuels.

“We have launched B20 biodiesel-capable cars in the US this year,” said Duesterhoeft.

“We are committed to using biofuels and we are the front runners for using fuel flex cars in the US,” she added, referring to cars that are designed to run on more than one fuel, usually gasoline blended with ethanol or methanol.

The high price of US ethanol, however, is preventing consumers from using this type of vehicle, added Duesterhoeft.

“Hopefully, the US biofuel industry will be able to produce cheaper fuels and we can persuade customers to start buying flex fuel vehicles,” she said.
GM said it was also looking into using second generation biofuels, but that depended on regional feedstock sourcing and its ability to advance development.
The Bio-Based Chemicals summit ends on Thursday.

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By: Doris de Guzman
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