Mazda Makes Eco-Friendly Plastics from Biomass

Mazda Motor Corporation and Hiroshima University are researching together to develop a brand new “green” plastic material from cellulosic biomass. They want to use it in vehicles by 2013.

The Mazda Bioplastic Project will design a production process for an extremely versatile polypropylene, which is very good for use in vehicles, by converting non-food cellulosic biomass to ethanol in a first step, and then investigating various mixtures of ethylene and propylene.

The polypropylene must be sufficiently resistant to heat, strength and durability so that it can be used in vehicles’ bumpers and instrument panels. The Bioplastic project will also try to optimize the bioplastic’s manufacturing process so that it is eco-friendly and cost-effective.

The bioplastic’s manufacturing technology is presented shortly in the picture below:

Mazda’s has already researched biomass technology and their results were the world’s first high heat resistant, high strength bioplastic and the world’s first fully plant-derived fabric for use in car seats. These two biomaterials are used in the making the interior of the Mazda Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid, which wants itself to be a 100% green car (not only its fuel). Powered by Mazda’s hydrogen rotary engine and helped by a hybrid system, the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid is scheduled to be released in Japan’s market during 2008.

Mazda began collaborating with the R&D department from the Hiroshima University’s Graduate School of Engineering since 2005. Their mutual research agreement on joint automotive technology research includes developing biomass technology. Mazda already has plans to expand the research on biomass technologies along with their partners and strengthen its relationship with Hiroshima University for researching many other disciplines. Even the state of is involved: their National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) will participate in the bioplastic project. They also have an agreement on biomass research with the Hiroshima University.

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