Magna to develop bioplastic for automotive interiors

By Kerri Jansen
Staff Reporter

Published: February 13, 2014 3:01 pm ET
Updated: February 13, 2014 3:03 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Sustainability, Automotive, Materials Suppliers
Companies & Associations Magna International Inc.

Canadian automotive supplier Magna International Inc. is exploring potential automotive applications for a bioplastic made from byproducts of sugar production.

Magna, headquartered in Aurora, Ontario, has signed a cooperation agreement with Italian bioplastics company Bio-on srl to develop automotive-compatible products from Bio-on’s polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)-based bioplastic as an alternative to conventional plastics.

The project was launched in response to a call for sustainable solutions from Magna’s customer base, said Dieter Fahrländer, vice president of advanced engineering for Magna’s Interiors operating unit. Magna has worked with bioplastics in the past, but sought a solution that did not rely on a food source, he said.

“We searched for a long time for material that is in no way [bound] to the food chain,” Fahrländer said. “Because if you are talking about oil or corn or something like that, that is always really a setback to our customers, because they do not want to touch the food chain.”

Because Bio-on’s product is made from a waste material — the syrup left over when sugar beets are used to make commercial-grade sugar — it’s a more sustainable solution, Fahrländer said.

“In this case we are operating within the waste of the sugar production, which is also available in a really high yearly tonnage, so on the one side we have enough of it… and on the other side we found now one solution that does not affect the food chain,” he said.

PHA, a bacterially synthesized polymer, is produced from the fermentation of sugars. The bacteria used by Bio-on digest sugars in sugar beet molasses and produce PHAs, which are extracted and dried. The result is a white powder that can be further processed into products with properties comparable to objects made with traditional plastics, said Marco Astorri, Bio-on CEO. The bioplastic also is biodegradable.

Bio-on’s PHA has been used for a variety of things including home furnishings, mobile phones and food packaging, Marco said. Magna’s first job is to develop an automotive-grade resin, and to test the material in processes including thermoforming and injection molding.

Fahrländer said the company will pursue interior automotive applications first, and eventually expand to exterior products.

But with added sustainability comes added cost, at least for now.

“To reduce the carbon footprint of the car production, that is our main goal. The problem is the cost, and I think for the next year we will always have the problem with the cost for the biomaterials… so that is something we have to overcome,” Fahrländer said.

Testing will take place at Magna’s facility in Liberec, Czech Republic.


Comments

Magna to develop bioplastic for automotive interiors

By Kerri Jansen
Staff Reporter

Published: February 13, 2014 3:01 pm ET
Updated: February 13, 2014 3:03 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

FTC warns bag makers to take care before making biodegradeability claims

October 23, 2014 12:30 pm ET

Makers of oxodegradable or oxo-biodegradable plastic bags should consider themselves on notice, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.    More

Image

Westlake adding ethylene capacity in Louisiana

October 23, 2014 9:54 pm ET

Westlake Chemical Corp. will add 250 million pounds of annual ethane-based ethylene capacity as part of a $330 million expansion project in Lake...    More

Image

PolyOne increases quarterly profits despite falling sales

October 23, 2014 4:55 pm ET

North American compounding leader PolyOne Corp. saw its third-quarter profit increase, even as sales fell vs. the year-ago period.    More

Image

Toyoda Gosei's growth strategy places a big focus on North America

October 23, 2014 1:21 pm ET

Sometimes, knowing your weaknesses is just as important as knowing your strengths. And if 2014 is any indication, automotive supplier Toyoda Gosei Co....    More

Image

Packaging specialist Amcor hits sustainability goals ahead of schedule

October 23, 2014 11:15 am ET

Global packaging company Amcor Ltd. has achieved its waste reduction goals two years ahead of schedule, according to the company's new sustainability ...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events