Here we examine how a new plastic could transform the carbon footprint of the car industry...
When it comes to the carbon footprint of the auto trade, first thoughts turn to how to cut vehicle emissions, whether through turning to electric cars, super efficient motors or hydrogen cells.
However, what is often not taken into account is the carbon footprint of the actual manufacturing process, and particularly the oil-based plastics that make up so much of the interiors of vehiclesThe problem for manufacturers is that there is no suitable alternative to oil-based plastics when it comes to durability, cost and — particularly importantly in cars — resistance to heat. But this looks set to change as a Japanese scientist has developed a new bio-based plastic called polyimide that is resistant to temperatures up to 400C.
If trials are successful, this new technology opens up the automobile sector as a new market for bioplastics, which traditionaly have been poor at resisting heat. Tatsuo Kaneko, a professor at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Ishikawa Prefecture, added that this bioplastic could potentially take the place of not just conventional plastics, but also metals in engine parts and glass, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of car manufacture. The material would also have applications in a wide range of other scenarios, helping the fight against climate change across many industries.
When it comes to cars the advantages of the new material go beyond a lower carbon production process. Significant weight savings can also be made from the wood-derived material by replacing metal parts with it. This in turn will reduce the power needed when driving a car and so cut emissions.
The realm of bioplastics is rapidly changing as innovative new companies seek ways of improving performance and reducing cost. One such company has been identified by the OPEN Cleantech Equity Fund as showing great promise, this time in the world of plastic films, for use in food packaging, plastic bags.
The company has sole rights to the patented processes and technology which produces a revolutionary polymer to make highly versatile plastic film for use in a wide range of applications.
Not only is it fully recyclable, but it is also biodegradable and dissolves completely in temperature controlled water, or in seawater, leaving no residue.
It is another excellent example of the innovative new processes that are needed to avoid environmental disaster. If you would like to know more about the OPEN Cleantech Equity Fund, please contact us.