RheTech Inc., a supplier of thermoplastics used in automotive components, has developed a new bio-composite using industrial waste materials such as wood fibers, rice hulls and flax straw.
Executive Vice President Andrew Hopkins says the patented material, trademarked RheVision, contains about 30% industrial waste fibers to reinforce polypropylene in a variety of applications.
It’s 10% lighter than traditional glass- or mineral-filled compounds, can be formed using less energy and “has a zero” carbon imprint, he says.
The bio-composite boasts “favorable economics,” can be molded or extruded on existing machinery, is colorable and, thus, can eliminate painting, Hopkins says.
RheVision was developed to fill a need for what he calls growing demand by RheTech customers for “a more sustainable” material.
Besides using less energy to manufacture, the material “is more easily recycled” and can create savings in landfill cost and space, he says.
RheTech, in business 40 years, is targeting the material for automotive components such as interior handles, cupholders, parcel shelves, arm-rest inners and trunk components.
It also is eyeing consumer products such as bird feeders, garden furniture, siding, decking, fencing and other construction applications.
The supplier’s other products for interior, exterior and underhood applications include wheel liners, fan shrouds and battery trays, plus components for front-end modules, seating, consoles, door systems and rocker panels.
Based in Whitmore Lake, MI, RheTech is privately held.
In his current post, Hopkins is responsible for commercial, marketing, technical and new product development.