Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ford Formulates Soy-based Formula to Improve Car Parts Made of Rubber

Ford Motor Company's biomaterial researchers have engineered a patent-pending formula to use renewable soy oil to improve rubber car parts and make them more environmentally friendly.

By using renewable soy oil as a 25 percent replacement for petroleum oil, Ford researchers more than doubled rubber's stretchability and reduced its environmental impact. Soy-based rubber parts such as radiator deflector shields, air baffles, cupholder inserts and floor mats are under consideration for future Ford vehicle programs.

"Ford is focused on finding innovative ways to make our vehicles more eco-friendly," said Cynthia Flanigan, Ford technical leader in elastomeric polymers. "Soy-based rubber has win-win potential as it provides superior stretchability and serves as a renewable resource that helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions from raw materials."

Beyond soy oil

The scope of Ford's recent rubber research, which was funded in part by grants from the United Soybean Board (USB), included the use of soy fillers (flour, meal) as well as soy oils. Ford researchers found that soy fillers could provide an inexpensive and environmentally friendly partial replacement of carbon black, a petroleum-based material traditionally used to reinforce rubber. Used together, soy oil and soy fillers could replace up to 26 percent of the petroleum-based content in automotive rubber applications.

While rubber's role in automotive applications is generally not a glamorous one, it is significant. According to the International Rubber Study Group, the automotive sector accounts for more than 50 percent of worldwide rubber consumption, which exceeded 22 million metric tons in 2008. Automotive rubber usage is expected to rise more than 4 percent through 2013.

Sustainable solutions

Ford demonstrated that soy-based foams could be formulated to pass stringent requirements for automotive applications, starting with seats for the 2008 Ford Mustang and headliners for the 2010 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner. The new 2011 Ford Explorer will become the 23rd model to feature soy foam. With bio foam on more than 2 million vehicles, Ford has annually reduced its petroleum oil usage by more than 3 million pounds and its carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million pounds.

The use of soy content in automotive applications also supports American farmers. The United Soybean Board, which oversees investments of all U.S. soybean farmers for research and promotion efforts, works closely with Ford in an effort to get soy-based technology commercialized. "USB remains committed to funding the research, development and commercialization of new industrial uses for soybeans, and works with companies like Ford to leverage industry research dollars," says Marty Ross, USB New Uses Committee chair and a soybean farmer from Delmar, Del. "Use of soy-based products reduces the U.S. dependence on imported oil and decreases the country's use of petrochemicals."

Ford also is looking at the use of other renewable sources for foam, including grape seed and sunflower oil. In addition to bio foam, the company is working with post-consumer recycled resins to make underbody systems, post-industrial recycled yarns for seat fabrics, repurposed nylon carpeting made into nylon resin and molded into cylinder head covers, and wheat straw-reinforced plastic parts.

"By increasing the use of recycled or renewable content and reducing the use of undesirable materials whenever possible, we're helping to reduce waste to landfills by millions of pounds - and we're doing it around the world," said John Viera, Director - Sustainability and Environmental Policy, Ford.

The use of recycled or renewable content is making a positive impact on the environment and Ford's bottom line. In 2009, Ford reduced the amount of automotive-related plastics to landfills by nearly 30 million pounds and saved approximately $4.5 million by reusing recycled materials.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bio Polymers Market

The total sunk-in capacity for biopolymers in 2009 was around 500 million lbs. These include polylactide acid [PLA] (NatureWorks, Galactic, Hycail BV); polyhydroxyalkanoates such as PHAs, PHB, and PHBH (Biomer, Procter&Gamble); polymers based on bio-based PDO (DuPont); cellulose polymers (Innovia Films)1; epoxy polymers from bio-glycerol; and starch polymers and blends (AkzoNobel [National Starch Chemical] and several other players). NatureWorks (Cargill Dow) is the major commercial player with a PLA capacity of 280 million lbs2; and Novamont is the major producer of starch polymers and blends, with a capacity of 120 million lbs.3

The total capacity of biopolymers is expected to reach 1.3 billion lbs, if Braskem's 400 million lbs/year of bio-polyethylene production and Braskem's/Nova Zymes's 400 million lbs/year4 of bio-polypropylene production materializes in Brazil. At these levels, the biopolymer's share of the total global production of synthetic polymers will be a meager 0.26%! If biopolymers were to replace all of the polymer products, the amount of biopolymer production would need to increase nearly 400-fold (from 1.3 billion lbs to over 520 billion lbs). This would undoubtedly put a strain on our planet's ecosystem and require massive deforestation.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New software for filament winding pattern generation

A tapered vessel mandrel showing a helical winding, the transition and a circumferential winding. Band colors indicate the winding angle. © Seifert and Skinner & Associates, Inc.
Seifert and Skinner & Associates, Inc. (SS&A) has introduced ComposicaD™; as announced on the 07th of July 2010. This software generates winding patterns for any filament winding machine. Modules and packages in the ComposicaD lineup allow winding for:
• pipes and tubes;
• tanks and vessels;
• any figure of revolution;
• pipe tees and elbows;
• spars;
• other geometric shapes.

The software was designed from the ground up to be completely user friendly, making it quick for the part programmer to make parts. The software is uniquely focused at the part level, not at the individual layer level, where much of today’s existing software is focused.

Many filament winders make a range of products – pipes or tanks that vary only in the overall length or diameter. Using ComposicaD, the part programmer builds the desired laminate table – the different layers of circumferential, helical and transition winding – and then can produce a range of parts, simply by varying the part length and/or diameter. ComposicaD automatically recalculates all of the layers to produce the new part. This can save an enormous amount of time, since each part doesn’t have to be laboriously programmed individually layer by layer.

ComposicaD uses many improved algorithms for calculating the fiber paths and machine motions. The software produces exactly symmetric laminates, produces a “time optimal trajectory”, controls the fiber speed and acceleration, automatically generates minimum length transitions, and more. ComposicaD maintains a database of materials – commonly used fiber band setups – which include the band width, band thickness, maximum slip potential, band density, cost and other parameters. These parameters are used to calculate laminate weights, length of fiber consumed, and costs as well as the winding time, both on a total part basis and for the individual lamina.

ComposicaD produces machine output for up to six axes of motion – spindle, carriage, cross carriage, rotating eye, yaw axis and perpendicular axis. ComposicaD automatically calculates the thickness buildup and adjusts the winding contour. Winding speeds are controlled by the machine accelerations and velocities, including the fiber speed, and can be varied up to the limits, which are specific for the target winding machine.
ComposicaD produces output for all types of CNC winding machines and has capability to control other devices associated with the winding process, such as fiber tension, resin bath temperature, mandrel pressure, and other parameters.

Composicad is available exclusively through Seifert and Skinner & Associates and leading winding machine manufacturers.

Notebook casing with bamboo aspect

The Taiwanese company Asus has developed two models of notebooks that feature an innovative design. These new laptops which are commercialized under the trade name Asus Bamboo Series have been designed by the Pegutron design studio in Taïwan and have already won a 2009 iF-design award. In fact they include an innovative housing made from Moso bamboo i.e. phyllostachys pubescent by using an In-Mold Decoration (IMD) technology. This plant has been chosen because it is sustainable and very strong, easy and quick to grow, and because it requires very little water, helps reduce CO2 and is fairly pest resistant. Furthermore bamboo can withstand the high pressures (i.e. more than 3,600 kg/cm2) during processing. The bamboo-based surfaces cover not only the chassis but also the wristrests and even touch pads.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fuel filter housing made of conductive PA-6

In collaboration with the German material producer Lanxess, the German automotive part manufacturer Mann+Hummel has designed a cost-effective thermoplastic alternative to die-cast aluminum-based fuel filter housings. The new fuel filter housing and its lid are made of Durethan™ DP BCF 30 X H2.0, a 30% glass and carbon reinforced polyamide-6 (PA-6) grade from Lanxess AG. The parts are injected molded and welded together. The Durethan™ DP BCF 30 X H2.0 material has been chosen because it is an electrically conductive material that does not require any secondary finishing contrary to die-cast aluminum (which requires milling, grinding and drilling for instance) and simplifies subsequent assembly. It also offers enhanced design freedom and greater weight reducing potential. Furthermore this PA-6 grade exhibits high anti-static properties and its high electrical conductivity prevents static from building up in the filter due to the media flowing through it for instance. Last but not least it provides weight saving compared with die-cast aluminum and good resistance to gasoline, diesel and the new biofuels.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

PA high-heat resins extend "Under The Hood" functionalities

For under-the-hood (UTH) applications (turbochargers, air ducts) in automotives, DSM has introduced two high-heat resins - Stanyl Diablo OCD2300 and Akulon Diablo, using polyamide (PA46) material. The resins aim at providing reduced weight and high-temperature sustainability for a longer time. The grade limits thermal oxidative breakdown, and thus make Stanyl Diablo withstand temperature of upto 230°C for more than 3,000 hours. Akulon Diablo is used in air/fuel systems, which may be subject to temperatures of up to 210°C while continuously in use (over 230°C for shorter periods).

The addition of both resins brings forth metal replacement options for UTB applications and meets the needs of the supply chain for air ducts. Akulon Flex PA6 is specifically tailored for flexible ducts and Arnitel TPE for clean air ducts. It can be used as a single-source solution for all ducts, end caps and resonators.