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Johnson Controls Introduces Soy Foam for Seating Systems

9 January 2007

Johnson Controls has developed foam pads for automotive seatbacks and cushions consisting of 5% soy-based products and 95% polyurethane. The company is already marketing the soy-based seat systems, which will appear in a number of model year 2008 production vehicles.

Engineers at Johnson controls replaced 5% of the total pad weight with soy oil. The resulting cushion matches the performance of conventional foam in durability, shape and comfort.

Currently, Johnson Controls molds more than 100 million pounds of urethane foam annually for automotive seats for North America.

In December, Lear Corporation announced its soybean oil-based flexible foam material—SoyFoam—for automotive interior applications is up to 24% renewable as opposed to traditional non-renewable petroleum-based foam. (Earlier post.)

Typically, a complete set of seats for a vehicle uses about 25 to 30 pounds of urethane foam for seat cushions and seatbacks, and 2 to 5 pounds of foam for headrests and arms combined. Utilizing soy-based foam for seat cushions and backs offers a larger opportunity overall for reducing the use of petroleum-based material when compared to using a higher percentage of soy for smaller parts, according to Johnson Controls.

The company is also working on foam with higher soy content of up to 40%. In October, scientists at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center announced they had formulated the chemistry to replace 40% of the standard petroleum-based polyol with a soy-derived material. (Earlier post.)

January 9, 2007 in Bio-polymers, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

So, in terms of total lifecycle:

* Does this reduce petroleum consumption (remember, growing and transporting soy uses oil)?
* Does this reduce the price of production?
* Does this help to stabilize the input stream's costs? Availability?

Assuming a 10% petro-use premium for soy - At 5% soy and 95% urethane it's doubtful there is a petro savings. At 30-40% soy content less the cost of growth, transport, etc. should yield a 20-30% reduction in petro.

Officer Friendly told my class in elementary school, that if the school bus catches fire, hold your breath and remain low, because the seat cushion foam is highly poisonous when it's burning. Does soy-based foam reduce this concern? Should there be some legislation in place to get this in our school buses faster, if there is a reduced chance of kids being exposed to this potential hazard?

I think Officer Friendly should have told your class to exit the bus if it catches fire.

Perhaps I am missing something but 5% soy is hardly an occasion to break out the Kristal.

Another misleading headline. This is hardly soy foam. 5%? I think not.

Perhaps I am missing something but 5% soy is hardly an occasion to break out the Kristal.

Is widespread use of B5 instead of B0 an occasion to break out the Kristal?

You don't go from 0 to 100. You take steps. 5% is a step in the right direction.

If you're buying, I'll drink the Kristal. Otherwise, I'm unimpressed by this faux-green nonsense.

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