As Faurecia’s NAFILean (natural fiber for injection) lightweight hemp-based biomaterials are increasingly adopted by OEMs, the company has developed new figures showing the significant energy and environmental benefits of the biomaterials. NAFILean integrates a natural, hemp-based fiber with polypropylene and allows for complex shapes and architectures along with weight reduction.... Read more →


Teijin Limited has developed a formable gasoline-resistant film made of PLANEXT bioplastic to replace chrome plating, which Honda Lock Mfg. Co., Ltd. has now adopted for nonconductive door handles integrated with smart-entry systems. Teijin developed the innovative film using a special metal-evaporation technology from a processing-manufacturer partner. Teijin is currently... Read more →


U Minn researchers develop bio-based elastomers from recoverable methyl valerolactone; tires, gaskets, seals, etc.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed and demonstrated at laboratory scale a novel process to synthesize low-cost, polymeric valerolactones with tunable mechanical properties and low glass transition temperatures. The glass transition temperature is the temperature region in which a polymer transitions from a hard, glassy material to a... Read more →


Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a new class of high-performance thermoplastic elastomers for cars and other consumer products by replacing the styrene in ABS (acrylonitrile, butadiene and styrene) with lignin, a brittle, rigid polymer that, with cellulose, forms the woody cell walls of plants. In doing... Read more →


Stanford team devises new bio-inspired strategy for using CO2 to produce multi-carbon compounds such as plastics and fuels

Researchers at Stanford University have devised a new strategy for using CO2 in the synthesis of multi-carbon compounds. They first have applied their technology to the production of a plastic—a promising alternative to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) called polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF)—but are now working to apply the new chemistry to the... Read more →


Mazda Motor Corporation, in conjunction with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, has developed a new bio-based engineering plastic that can be used for exterior design parts for automobiles. The new plastic will help Mazda to reduce its impact on the environment in a number of ways. As the plastic is made from... Read more →


EcoPaXX crankshaft cover. Click to enlarge. A lightweight multi-functional crankshaft cover in Royal DSM’s EcoPaXX high-performance polyamide 410 was top in the Powertrain category at the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division Innovation Awards Competition and Gala in Detroit. The 70% bio-based EcoPaXX is made principally from topical castor beans... Read more →


DOE to issue funding opportunity for bioenergy technologies; outliers to current multi-year program plan

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000974) entitled “Bioenergy Technologies Incubator”. BETO’s mission is to engage in R&D and demonstration at increasing scale activities to transform renewable... Read more →


Early version of CRP-based armrest piece under development. Source: Weyerhaeuser. Click to enlarge. A three-year collaboration between Lincoln, Weyerhaeuser and auto parts supplier Johnson Controls has resulted in the creation of a tree-based, renewable alternative to fiberglass for use in auto parts. (Earlier post.) The 2014 Lincoln MKX features the... Read more →


Crankshaft cover. Click to enlarge. Royal DSM, together with its automotive component specialist partner KACO, has developed a lightweight multi-functional crankshaft cover in EcoPaXX, DSM’s bio-based polyamide 410, for the latest generation of diesel engines developed by the Volkswagen Group. EcoPaXX, a bio-based, high-performance long-chain polyamide, is made mainly from... Read more →


DSM’s Stanyl and EcoPaXX are used in the new SIM-CEL EV prototype. Click to enlarge. The latest prototype electric car from Japan-based SIM-Drive Corporation (earlier post) features parts based on DSM’s Stanyl and EcoPaXX polyamides that make the car lighter and more sustainable. SIM-Drive Corporation, founded by Hiroshi Shimizu and... Read more →


Rennovia demonstrates production of HMD from renewable feedstocks; enabling production of 100% renewable nylon-6,6

Rennovia, Inc., a privately held company that develops novel catalysts and processes for the cost-advantaged production of chemical products from renewable feedstocks, has successfully demonstrated production of hexamethylenediamine (HMD) from widely available, renewable feedstocks. Coupled with Rennovia’s previously announced renewable adipic acid, this enables for the first time the production... Read more →


ISU study finds large potential for biobased materials in auto industry, but with challenges

A study by researchers at Iowa State University has determined that the automotive industry has a very large potential to utilize biobased materials. Their report, “Biobased Automobile Parts Investigation”, was developed for the USDA Office of Energy Policy and New Uses. Because SUVs and trucks have a large number of... Read more →


Winners of 2012 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge

American Chemical Society (ACS) President Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, Ph.D., and Jim Jones, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced the winners of the 2012 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge was established to... Read more →


GM begins market positioning for Cruze Diesel in 2013; small displacement diesels to “fill an important niche”

GM expects that the North American introduction of a 2.0L turbodiesel engine on Cruze—one of the top-selling gasoline-powered cars in the US in 2011 and General Motors’ best-selling model globally—will establish Chevrolet as the only domestic automaker offering an American-manufactured diesel-powered compact car with a European-American developed engine. (Earlier post.)... Read more →


Obama Administration releases National Bioeconomy Blueprint; health, food, energy and environment

The White House today released a national Bioeconomy Blueprint, a comprehensive approach to harnessing innovations in biological research to address national challenges in health, food, energy, and the environment. In coordination with the Blueprint’s release, Federal officials also announced a number of new commitments to help achieve the Blueprint’s goals.... Read more →


CAR releases study on use of bio-based materials in automotive sector; potential for the Great Lakes Region

There is significant potential for the expansion of bio-based automotive parts and components manufacturing in the US Great Lakes region, according to a newly-released study conducted by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), a nonprofit research organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The report defines bio-based materials as industrial products... Read more →


NSF to award up to $17.9M for research in catalysis and bio-catalysis, bio-engineering, and process and reaction engineering

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued three separate solicitations for up to a combined $17.9 million in awards for research projects in Catalysis and Bio-Catalysis ($4.8 million, 16 awards); Biotechnology, Biochemical, and Biomass Engineering ($8.2 million, 34 awards); and Process and Reaction Engineering ($4.9 million, 47 awards). Catalysis... Read more →


A scanning electron microscope image of chemically modified, nanofibrillized cellulose. Click to enlarge. Researchers at Switzerland’s Empa—an interdisciplinary research and services institution for material sciences and technology development within the ETH Domain—have developed a manufacturing process for nano-cellulose powder for use as a raw material for creating polymer composites. Cellulose... Read more →


Toyota to Use Bio-PET “Ecological Plastic” in Vehicle Interiors

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) plans to make vehicle liner material and other interior surfaces from a new bio-PET-based “Ecological Plastic”. Bio-PET is polyethylene terephthalate; it consists of 70% terephthalic acid and 30% monoethylene glycol, by weight. Bio-PET is made by replacing monoethylene glycol with a biological raw material derived from... Read more →


Frost & Sullivan Outlines Opportunities for Chemical Companies in the Changing Automotive Sector

According to Frost & Sullivan, opportunities exist for chemical companies in the automotive sector as dramatic shifts in business models occur and the types of vehicles being produced change. Electric vehicles provide just one example of many new revenue streams available to chemical companies this decade. However, chemical companies must... Read more →


Genencor and Goodyear Partnering on Process to Develop BioIsoprene from Sugars; To be Used in Manufacture of Tires

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Genencor, a division of Danisco A/S, have established a research collaboration to develop an integrated fermentation, recovery and purification system for producing BioIsoprene from renewable raw materials for use in tires. Genencor intends to commercialize the technology within the next five years. Synthetic... Read more →


Novozymes in Two New Research Partnerships in Brazil; Biogas from Bagasse and Polypropylene from Sugarcane

Novozymes, an international enzymes and microorganisms company, has entered two new research partnerships in Brazil. A partnership with Cetrel, the largest provider of environmental solutions for the manufacturing industry in Latin America, is focused on the production of biogas from sugarcane bagasse using enzymes. The biogas can be used to... Read more →


Wheat Straw Bio-Filled Polypropylene. Click to enlarge. Ford Motor Company, working with academic researchers in Canada and one of its suppliers, has developed a wheat straw-reinforced plastic; the natural fiber-based plastic contains 20% wheat straw bio-filler. First application is on the 2010 Ford Flex’s third-row interior storage bins. This application... Read more →


Projections of the worldwide production capacity of bio-based plastics through 2020. Source: PRO-BIP 2009. Click to enlarge. Replacement of up to 90% (270 Mt) of the total global consumption of plastics in 2007 with bio-based plastics is ultimately technically possible, according to new study by authors at Utrecht University, commissioned... Read more →


Toyota to Increase ‘Ecological Plastic’ in Vehicle Interiors, Starting with New Hybrid

Conceptual diagram of carbon neutrality of Toyota Ecological Plastic. Click to enlarge. Toyota Motor (TMC) plans to increase use of plant-derived, carbon-neutral plastics in more vehicle models, starting with a new hybrid vehicle next year. The TMC newly developed plastics, collectively known as “Ecological Plastic”, are to be used in... Read more →


Metabolix to Develop Advanced Industrial Oilseed Crops for Bioplastic and Biofuel Production

Metabolix, Inc. has initiated a program to develop an advanced industrial oilseed crop to produce bioplastics. Oilseeds are the primary feedstock for the more than 250 million gallons of biodiesel produced annually in the United States and the co-production of bioplastics promises to improve the economics of this crop industry.... Read more →


Teijin Introduces Concept Car Made From Lightweight Materials

Teijin’s PU_PA concept. Japanese textile producer Teijin Ltd. unveiled a lightweight concept car, the PU_PA, made from materials including carbon fiber and bioplastic as part of an effort to promote its products that could reduce automotive weight. The firm plans to advocate the use of advanced materials, telling automakers that... Read more →


NIST Awards Almost $10M to 5 New Bio-based Fuels and Chemicals Projects

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is awarding up to $138.7 million in funding to 56 new research and development projects under the agency’s Advanced Technology Program (ATP). The new awards represent a broad range of technologies, including alternative energy sources, biofuels, transportation, manufacturing, semiconductor electronics,... Read more →


Mazda Develops Biofabric Made With 100% Plant-Derived Fiber for Vehicle Interiors

Mazda Motor, collaboration with Teijin Limited and Teijin Fibers Limited, has developed the world’s first biofabric made with completely plant-derived fibers, suitable for use in vehicle interiors. The biofabric is made of 100% polylactic acid—a plastic created by combining large numbers of lactic acid molecules that are made from fermented... Read more →


Dow and Crystalsev to Make Polyethylene from Sugar Cane Ethanol in Brazil

The Dow Chemical Company, the world’s largest producer of polyethylene, and Crystalsev, one of Brazil’s largest ethanol players, plan to form a joint venture to manufacture polyethylene from sugar cane ethanol. With production expected to start in 2011, the plant will have an annual capacity of 350,000 metric tons. The... Read more →


Researchers Convert Glucose Directly to Building Block for Fuels and Plastics

A team of researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have converted glucose directly and with high yield to a chemical intermediate for the production of fuels and plastics: 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). HMF can be converted into plastics, petroleum or diesel fuel extenders, or into diesel fuel. The researchers report... Read more →


DuPont Launches Next Family of Bio-Polymers; Energy and Greenhouse Gas Savings

Click to enlarge. DuPont has announced its next polymer family made with renewable resources: Cerenol. This patented new product line joins DuPont Sorona as the newest polymer family made with corn instead of petroleum. Cerenol is a family of renewably sourced, high-performance polyols (polyetherdiols). The liquid polyol is made using... Read more →


Ashland and Cargill to Form Joint Venture for Bio-based Chemicals

Ashland Inc., a global chemical company, and Cargill have agreed in principle to create a new joint venture devoted solely to the development and production of bio-based chemicals. The parties intend for the new stand-alone entity to become a leading global supplier of chemicals from renewable sources. The venture’s first... Read more →


DOE Will Provide Up To $200M in Funding for Small-Scale Biorefineries

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide up to $200 million, over five years (FY’07-’11) to support the development of small-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the United States. DOE is soliciting projects to develop biorefineries at 10% of commercial scale that produce liquid transportation fuels such as ethanol, as well... Read more →


Ceres and Rohm and Haas Collaborate to Develop Methacrylate Monomers from Cellulosic Ethanol Crops

Energy crop company Ceres, Inc. and Rohm and Haas Company are collaborating on a three-year project to determine if energy crops planted for cellulosic ethanol could simultaneously produce methacrylate monomers, a key raw material used in the manufacture of many products including paint and coatings, building materials, and acrylic sheet... Read more →


Researchers Develop Bioplastic that Can Be Broken Down to Liquid Fuel

Researchers at New York’s Polytechnic University have bioengineered a fuel-latent plastic from plant-derived fatty acids that can subsequently be broken down into a diesel-like liquid fuel for use in generators. Professor Richard Gross, director of Polytechnic University’s National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing of Macromolecules (CBBM) developed... Read more →


DuPont Tate & Lyle Venture Partners With Cryotech to Launch Corn-Derived Deicing Fluid

The Integrated Corn Biorefinery concept. Click to enlarge. DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products LLC, a joint venture between DuPont and Tate & Lyle, is partnering with Cryotech Deicing Technology to introduce Susterra propanediol, a new 100% renewably sourced product for runway deicing formulations marketed to airports and the aviation... Read more →


Dow Introduces Propylene Glycol Derived from Biodiesel By-Product

The Dow Chemical Company has introduced a monopropylene glycol—Propylene Glycol Renewable (PGR)—made from glycerin generated during the manufacture of biodiesel. Dow is currently conducting PGR trials with customers and anticipates having limited commercial quantities available in mid-2007. PGR will be used in such applications as unsaturated polyester resins (UPR) for... Read more →


Yokohama Tire Technology Cuts Petroleum Use in Tire by 80%

Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd. (YRC)—the seventh-largest tire manufacturer in the world—has developed a process that combines citrus oil with natural rubber to form a new compound it calls Super Nanopower Rubber (SNR). The major component of citrus oil is d-limonene. The process reduces the use of petroleum products in tires... Read more →


Johnson Controls Introduces Soy Foam for Seating Systems

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... Read more →


Lear Introduces SoyFoam for Automotive Seating

Lear Corporation, one of the world’s leading automotive interior suppliers, has developed a soybean oil-based flexible foam material—SoyFoam—for automotive interior applications. Most auto manufacturers today use a 100% petroleum-based polyol foam. Per year, the US market for this material is 3 billion pounds; 9 billion pounds worldwide. An average of... Read more →


Chevron Technology Ventures Joins BIO

Chevron Technology Ventures LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chevron Corp., has become a member of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). Chevron Technology Ventures has recently announced strategic collaborations with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (earlier post) and with the University of California Davis (earlier post) to research and develop next-generation... Read more →


Ford Develops Foam with 40% Soy-Based Material

Comparison of 40% soy-foam properties to desired automotive properties from Ford’s work in 2005. Click to enlarge. Scientists at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center have formulated the chemistry to replace 40% of the standard petroleum-based polyol—one of the many ingredients used to create the polyurethane foams used in vehicles for... Read more →


USDA and DOE Fund $17.5 Million in Biofuels Research

The US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) are allocating nearly $17.5 million to 17 biomass research, development and demonstration projects. Secretaries Mike Johanns (USDA) and Samuel Bodman (DOE) announced the funding while addressing the General Session at Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance, a jointly hosted USDA-DOE... Read more →


New Process for the Efficient Production of a Chemical Intermediate (HMF) from Sugar; Building Blocks for Plastics and Fuels

Click to enlarge. Source: James Dumesic Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed an efficient process to make a chemical intermediate called HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) from fructose from biomass. HMF can be converted into plastics, petroleum or diesel fuel extenders, or even into diesel fuel itself. The two-phase process operates... Read more →


DuPont to Produce New High-Performance Bio-Polymers for Automotive, Other Markets

The DuPont Integrated Corn-Based Refinery concept has value-added chemicals such as Bio-PDO as a key output. DuPont expects to begin production in 2007 of new high-performance thermoplastic resins and elastomer products made from two of its latest bio-based materials. The products will be targeted for automotive, electrical/electronic and other industrial... Read more →