Special Coverage

SAE World Congress

DETROIT – Netherlands-based Royal DSM N.V. is launching two new plastics at the SAE World Congress here that it says answer growing demands by auto makers for more environmentally friendly automotive materials.

PSA Peugeot Citroen has been particularly aggressive in its plan to become the global leader in use of green materials, but most of the world’s auto makers also are striving in that direction.

Typically, auto makers are trying to increase use of recycled polymers or plastics made with natural fillers such as hemp, linen or other materials, as well as bioplastics made from plants.

PSA says the vehicles it introduces in 2011 will use 66-110 lbs. (30-50 kg) of green materials, compared with 20-33 lbs. (9-15 kg) in 2007. DSM officials clearly have their eyes on helping the French auto maker meet that target.

The company’s announcement takes place simultaneously with a press conference in Paris, where PSA is headquartered.

Wilfrid Gambade, business director composite resins-Europe and Global Markets, says DSM’s new Palapreg ECO P55-01 is composed of 55% renewable material, making it the composite resin material with the highest bio-based content available on the market today.

Palapreg is a thermoset sheet-molding composite resin designed for vehicle body parts, including exterior panels requiring a Class-A surface finish. It can be fabricated into parts using conventional SMC presses and molds, Gambade says.

The other bioplastic being launched is Ecopaxx, a thermoplastic high-performance polyamide designed for numerous uses underhood and other areas where resistance to chemicals, including road salt, is required. About 70% of the material is derived from castor oil, a renewable resource.

DSM officials are careful to point out the company’s plant-based feedstocks do not come from food sources. Growing crops for fuel or manufacturing, instead of food, is an extremely contentious issue in Europe and other areas of the world.

Because patents are not yet finalized, Gambade says he cannot specify what the renewable material in Palapreg is, except to say it is “cellulosic.”

DSM officials say both Palapreg and Ecopaxx currently are involved in the final approval stage with several automotive customers, including some in Detroit, which they cannot yet identify.

Last year, DSM derived 7% of its total net sales from the automotive and transportation sectors.

dwinter@wardsauto.com