Modern vehicles contain, on average, over 300 pounds of plastic. Of course, most modern plastics are made from petroleum, which opens up a whole new world of pollution and emissions.
Plastic pollution, not only from its manufacture, but also from lack of recycling, means a lot of petroleum goes to waste. In 2012, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) reported that some 32 million tons of plastic waste was generated, but only 9% of it was recycled.
Last year, for the 15 million cars produced in the US, about 2.5 million tons of plastic was used, which translates to about 1.2 billion gallons of crude petroleum. Add to this the hundreds of billions of gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel that will be used in those cars during their lifetimes, and it’s an emissions nightmare.
The Biofore Concept Car removes a significant portion of plastic content from its vehicle, and plastic’s associated petroleum footprint, by making use of a new wood-based composite materials. UPM, a Finnish forestry company, specializes in wood products of all kinds, including pulp, paper, and construction materials. In the Biofore, traditional plastic surfaces are replaced by UPM Grada, a thermoformed wood material, such as in the floor, console, door panels, and seat backs. UPM Formi, a wood-based biocomposite material using minimal percentages of plastic, is also used for trim pieces and body parts.
As if significantly reducing petroleum-based plastics from the body and trim of the Biofore Concept Car wasn’t enough, the car doesn’t burn petroleum-based fuels to run. Instead, the Biofore runs on a wood-based biodiesel, UPM BioVerno, in a tiny 1.2 ℓ engine. UPM says its biodiesel can also be used in any modern diesel engine, to run carbon-neutral.
Image © UPM