Düsseldorf, Germany — Material development for Asahi Kasei is as easy as AKXY2.
That's the name of the concept car that the firm showed in Europe for the first time at K 2022. It showcased several materials and technologies developed by Tokyo-based Asahi Kasei.
"For us, [K 2022] is all about automotive solutions," Strategic Marketing Manager Sebastian Schmidt said. "The concept car brings together a lot of our ideas.
"We're looking at everything from lightweighting to electrification," he added. "Our materials can improve heat performance and other characteristics and offer high functionality and affordability."
The AKXY2 debuted in May as part of Asahi Kasei's 100th anniversary. Officials said it demonstrates the firm's expertise throughout the entire value chain, from raw materials and production technologies to the use of recycled and recyclable materials.
They added that almost everything that can been seen, touched or felt in the vehicle is made or co-developed by Asahi Kasei. The car's windows are made of outsourced hard-coated polycarbonate through a manufacturing method developed by Asahi Kasei in 2002 that uses CO2 as a raw material. Today, 15 percent of its global PC production uses this technology.
To enable PC applications in auto windshields, Asahi Kasei is developing a hard-coating technology that provides PC with resistance to abrasion and weatherability. Officials said replacing glass with this PC will reduce vehicle weight and extend EV driving range.
The interior surfaces of the concept car are covered by Dinamica, a suedelike microfiber partly made of recycled polyester. Dinamica is made by Miko, an Italian unit of Asahi Kasei-owned Sage Automotive Interiors.
Also at K 2022, Asahi Kasei showcased AZP, a transparent optical acrylic polymer for auto interiors. AZP features ultralow birefringence and provides perfect screen visibility without rainbow effects, officials said.
Asahi Kasei presented its SunForce family of innovative particle foams. SunForce is based on modified polyphenylene ether and can be processed on standard foam molding equipment. The foams offer lightweight, flame retardance, thin-wall moldability and processability. At K 2022, Asahi Kasei displayed round cell holders made of this material.
Asahi Kasei also is developing cellulose-based materials, which it's produced for almost 100 years, such as a cellulose-based nanofiber filler. The new materials can be an alternative to glass fiber and can be used in nylons 6 and 6/6 and acetal.
Asahi Kasei is an industrial conglomerate that employs almost 47,000 worldwide. The firm's Asahi Kasei Plastics North America unit ranks as one of North America's 30 largest compounders, employing more than 400 at three production sites making compounds based on polypropylene and engineering resins.