Royal DSM introduces bio-based plastics

  • 14-Apr-2010 10:57 EDT
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Tests to date show that Palapreg ECO P55-01 possesses the same properties as the petroleum-based product it will replace.

Royal DSM N.V. today in Detroit announced the commercial availability of a bio-based resin for automotive vehicle body parts. The company's Palapreg ECO P55-01 thermoset resin is especially useful for sheet-molding compound (SMC) and bulk-molding compound (BMC) for exterior panels.

“When we originally developed this project, we were looking at the underbody shields, but rapidly we realized that [the material] could also meet Class-A applications,” said Wilfrid Gambade, Business Director Composite Resins Europe and Global Markets, at an SAE 2010 World Congress press conference.

He believes the importance of Palapreg ECO 55-01 lies in the desire of some automotive OEMs to have more of their vehicles made of bio-based materials. One example he pointed to is PSA Peugeot Citroen with its announced objective of increasing the percentage of green materials used per vehicle to 20% of the polymers used by weight by 2011.

Gambade stated that the company produced and sold one batch of Palapreg ECO P55-01 measuring 12 t (13.2 ton), primarily for evaluation purposes. The company describes the feedstock as “cellulose-based” and notes that tests to date show the material in general possesses the same properties as the petroleum-based product it will replace. The company also notes that it is a polyester like any other—a drop-in replacement to any other SMC or BMC resin.

“We believe that this product will be worth a premium price” because of the value it gives to the customers, said Emile Homsi, Vice President Research and Technology for DSM.

Another product the company expects to release commercially in the first quarter of 2011 is a castor-oil-based thermoplastic called EcoPaXX. The company describes EcoPaXX as polyamide with a 250°C (662°F) melting point with low moisture absorption and resistance to automotive coolant, fuels, salts, oils, and greases. While 70% of the material is based on castor oil, it is carbon-neutral throughout its lifecycle, according to the company.

Targeted to replace both metals and existing thermoplastics, EcoPaXX does not compete with food sources, the company says.

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