Auto parts supplier Denso Corp. is using bio-based plastics in some of its products, including castor oil based polyurethane and biopolycarbonate made from starch.
The starch PC is not only environmentally friendly, the Kariya, Japan-based company said, it has higher surface hardness, better optical characteristics and "superior hydrolytic stability" than conventional materials.
In a March 21 news release, Denso noted the bio-based PC refrects less light and has better color-forming properties, which means it does not need to be painted. Toyota Motor Co. is using Denso's material for the bezels in its navigation systems.
The heat resistant polyurethane resin made from castor oil is used as a protector for connectors in automotive exhaust gas sensors. These sensors, which measure the concentration of specific gases present in vehicle exhaust gases, must have high heat resistance, Denso said. Traditionally, the resins used in the units have been silicone-based.
The new PU resin is cheaper, and can withstand temperatures of up to 150°C. The company claims that it significantly reduces the amount of gases produced when it is melted and formed, and it believes this is the world's first resin of its kind.
The company established its Eco Vision 2025 action plan last year. It says it will continue to develop plant-derived plastics and increase the number of products made from these materials, with the aim of reducing oil use and decreasing CO2 emissions at all stages of its products' lifecycles.