Royal DSM NV has launched two bio-based plastics, with both thermoset and thermoplastic blends boasting more than 50 percent of their content from plant-based materials.
EcoPaxx is a polyamide with 70 percent of its content derived from castor oil. Palapreg Eco is available for sheet molded compound or bulk molded compound thermosets, with 55 percent derived from an unspecified cellulose-based material.
Palapreg already is commercially available, said Wilfrid Gambade, business director for composite resins in Europe and global markets, in an April 14 presentation at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2010 World Congress in Detroit. DSM introduced the resins simultaneously at SAE and the JEC Composites Show in Paris, which the company said demonstrates its global aspirations for the products.
DSM, based in Heerlen, Netherlands, already has made and shipped 24,000 pounds of Palapreg, which is being tested by customers. EcoPaxx will be available commercially in early 2011.
Although the company is targeting the auto industry as a prime potential customer, it expects both bioresins to be used in a variety of products. Palapreg's first application is on an outdoor bench. EcoPaxx is being targeted for everything from toothbrushes and toys to under-the-hood tanks.
In the next year or so, we will probably be sitting on a chair made of EcoPaxx, said Emile Homsi, vice president of research and technology.
DSM calls the two materials a natural outgrowth of its two business units in life sciences and material science.
Other companies sell both bio-based thermosets and thermoplastics, but none of the existing polyamides have as high a level of natural-material content, Homsi said. Palapreg differs from most natural-fiber thermosets because it is focused on the polyester resin rather than the filler material.
DSM has not released details of the thermoset material's biological component, but said it will do so later this year after completing the patent process.
It also has not publicized a price, but Joost DuBois, global communications director, said its high content of readily available natural materials should make it more resistant to price fluctuations than traditional feedstocks.
The company first focused on developing a bioresin for non-visible parts such as underbody shields, Gambade said, but early testing showed it performed above expectations for paint and other aesthetic elements, so it is now being marketed for body panels where standard SMC now appears along with the other parts.
Palapreg can also be dropped seamlessly into existing SMC and bulk molding processing operations, according to the company.
Both materials are hitting the market at the same time the automotive industry is looking to boost its use of renewably sourced plastics.
Paris-based PSA Peugeot CitroÃ«n SA, for example, has set a target of having 20 percent of its plastics made from renewable sources.
DSM's higher content level with more than 50 percent from plant-based material in both products gives it a stronger selling point over competing materials with 20 or 40 percent content, Gambade said.
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