The European Commission has set a goal to improve fuel efficiency standards by cutting emissions from cars by 2012 through technology improvements. One way to do that is to rethink the car’s materials.
Plastics & Rubber Weekly reports that one European company has developed a lightweight polypropylene material that will not compromise on performance or design and has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 520,000 tons annually.
Luxus, a technical plastics company in the U.K., developed the material to replace standard talc-filled materials used for interior trim in cars. The material is made of 10% filler (down from a typical 25%), which could reduce the weight of the car by about 20 kilograms. The annual reduction figure assumes approximately 13 million cars driven approximately 12,000 miles per year.
The material is also made of approximately 60% recycled content. Luxus has used recycled material for other types of trim, but this plastic is unique, Peter Atterby, managing director at the company, told Plastics & Rubber Weekly. He added:
The impact of EU legislation together with the need for lower costs and improve performance has prompted us to develop a new highly innovative compound able to satisfy the rigorous demands of the automotive industry.
Atterby noted that Luxus is piloting the new plastic “with a number of major car manufacturers before it goes into general production on current models.”
Source: “Lightweight automotive compound cuts CO2 emissions,” Plastics & Rubber Weekly, 11/8/11
Image by gavinrobinson, used under its Creative Commons license.
Rachel Petkewich is a freelance science writer and editor. She has worked as a research scientist in the chemical industry and spent eight years as a staff writer and editor at various science journals and magazines, including Chemical & Engineering News.