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Faurecia, Mitsubishi to produce automotive bioplastics

November 8, 2012

NANTERRE, FRANCE (Nov. 8, 1:45 p.m. ET) — Automotive supplier Faurecia SA has signed an exclusive agreement with Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. to co-develop bioplastics designed for mass-production for use in automotive interiors.

Faurecia’s Nov. 8 announcement said it plans to develop a full range of bioplastics, which it expects to see boom in the period 2015 to 2020.

The seating and interiors producer has been researching bioplastics derived from 100 percent natural materials since 2006 (BioMat project).

Nanterre-based Faurecia also said the environmental constraints associated with vehicle weight reduction, and the regulations intended to increase the recyclability of materials used in the vehicles to 85 percent in Europe by 2015 call for increased use of materials from natural resources, which it also claims “will ultimately replace petroleum-based plastics.”

This initiative also aims to ensure that the materials used have a positive impact on the product lifecycle (from initial extraction through to end-of-life).

Essentially, the objective of the joint Faurecia-Mitsubishi Chemical program is to develop a polymer that can be used in mass-production for automotive interior parts, including door panel trim strip, structural instrument panel and console inserts, air ducts, door panel inserts and more.

The work will start by modifying Mitsubishi Chemical’s patented biomass-derived poly-butylene succinate (PBS) with the ultimate target of producing this from 100 percent bio sources.

Minneapolis-based BioAmber Inc. will supply bio-based succinic acid to the partnership.

Faurecia will have exclusive rights to automotive applications of the specific polymers jointly developed under this project. This company said this project builds on several years of development work with BioAmber, a specialist in bio-based succinic acid technology.

The agreement with Mitsubishi Chemical “will make Faurecia the first automotive equipment supplier to mass-produce a 100 percent bio-based plastic. We are confident about the future of this technology as a substitute for petroleum-based plastic components; indeed, it is one of the main thrusts of our strategic initiative ‘bio-attitude’,” said Nicolas Pechnyk, vice president engineering for Faurecia Interior Systems, in the company statement.

For Mitsubishi Chemical, Shigeru Handa, general manager of sustainable resources business development department, said: “We believe our strengths in biotechnology, polymer development, and patent position will contribute to this partnership with Faurecia.”

Faurecia said the agreement will enable three leaders to pool their strengths: Faurecia, no. 1 worldwide in automotive interiors, Mitsubishi Chemical, one of the world’s largest chemical groups, and BioAmber, a pioneer in making bio-based succinic acid.