Advanced BIObased polyurethanes and fibres for the autoMOTIVE industry with increased environmental sustainability
Vehicles are composed by different materials and a noticeable and fundamental fraction of them (20% w/w) is constituted by plastic material, among which polyurethanes. PU is fundamental since, thanks to its properties, it enables to reduce the overall weight of the car, resulting also in a lower fuel consumption. More and more vehicles’ manufacturers and suppliers are betting on biobased alternatives derived from renewable raw materials, but a biobased plastic able to mimic technical properties of PUs as well as to provide the required aesthetics and haptics has not been developed yet. The BIOMOTIVE project will pave the ground towards the production and subsequent market penetration of biobased automotive interior parts with enhanced technical performance, improved environmental profile and economic competitiveness, with the aim of replacing the fossil-based, non-biodegradable counterparts. Within the project, innovative and advanced biobased materials with an increased biobased content (60-80%), i.e. thermoplastic polyurethanes, 2-components thermoset polyurethane foams and regenerated natural fibres, will be produced starting from renewable biomass feedstock not in competition with food and feed, leveraging innovative production techniques. Such materials will be validated into cars’ interior parts (door handles and automotive seats) demonstrating advanced properties in terms of resistance to fire, mechanical strength and flexibility as well as improved recyclability of the end-of-life products. The project will also aim at demonstrating an innovative process for the production of up to 80% biobased NIPUs, with moisture-repellant properties. The involvement of external industrial players thorough targeted dissemination events will pave the ground to the widening of the market applications of the developed biomaterials: regenerated fibres from paper-grade wood pulp into textile production and biobased TPUs in nature based solutions within the construction sector.
An important has been played by Nadir within the project:
Through the use of melt-compounding technology it was possible to optimize the formulation and compounding of the biogenic TPU with cellulose fibers introduced as reinforcing material;
Through the use of cold plasma technology it was possible to create coatings with catalytic functions useful for the production of polyurethane. These coatings, applied to a static mixer, make it possible to avoid the use of toxic catalysts by transforming a classic discontinuous process of homogeneous catalysis into a continuous process of heterogeneous catalysis with numerous advantages, not only from a production point of view, but also in terms of shelf life of the product.