PC, PMMA could replace glass in automobiles - consultant

21 March 2013 22:49  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Polycarbonate (PC) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) could have more applications to make automobiles lighter, particularly in the replacement of glass in windows, a consultant said on Thursday.

On average, about 9 kg of PC and 4 kg of PMMA are used in automotive vehicles, said Andreas Serr, associate principal at McKinsey.

They are used for light covers, exterior body parts such as bumpers and spoilers, in displays and interior lighting in the cockpit, as well as in other applications including air reflectors in trucks and cosmetic mirrors, he said during the IHS World Petrochemical Conference.

The use of plastics for car windows allows a weight reduction of up to 50%, Serr said.

Key factors driving demand of plastic glazing in window replacement include lower total cost of ownership for the car producer by reducing the fleet fuel consumption, as well as fuel efficiency for the driver.

Also, electric or hybrid vehicles could require a smaller battery or one with a larger range, he added.

However, there are still a number of hurdles for plastic glazing, including inferior security features, such as impact resistance, scratch resistance and breaking properties, as well as inferior quality features, such as optical stability, temperature, weather and ultraviolet durability.

Also, there is increased scrap rate and higher costs associated with plastic glazing, Serr said. There is also a lack of manufacturer knowledge and lack of customer acceptance for the product at this time.

Still, Serr said these issues could be solved through further technical advances.

The question now, he added, was which material could win the race – PC, PMMA or both.

The IHS World Petrochemical Conference ended on Thursday.

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By: Tracy Dang
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