bio!CAR, a new conference for the car industry, will launch in September this year. Focussed mainly on bio-based materials in automotive engineering, the international meeting will debut at the Exhibition Centre Stuttgart on 24-25 September as part of the Composites Europe 2015 how. The conference will be organised jointly by bioplastics Magazibe and the nova-Institut in cooperation with trade fair organiser Reed Exhibitions and the German Federation for Reinforced Plastics (AVK).
The bio!CAR conference is aimed at reflecting the trend towards using bio-based polymers and natural fibers in the automotive industry: more and more manufacturers and suppliers are betting on bio-based alternatives derived from renewable raw materials such as wood, cotton, flax, jute or coir, all of which are being deployed as composites in the interior trims of high-quality doors and dashboards. According to the Hürth-based nova-Institut, the European car industry most recently (2012) processed approximately 80,000 tonnes of wood and natural fiber into composites. The total volume of bio-based composites in automotive engineering was 150,000 tonnes.
|Environmentally-friendly cars such as Toyota's Prius were among the first to used plastics reinforced with natural fibers.|
Toyota has been one of the pioneers in employing natural fiber reinforced composites in its vehicles, with its usage dating back to 1999, when kenaf was used to reinforce a phenolic resin flat door trim in the Toyota Kijang minibus made in Indonesia. The hybrid Prius vehicle has also employed such materials.
Bioplastics are equally useful for premium applications in the auto sector according to the conference organizers. Bio-based polyamides based on castor oil from suppliers such as Arkema and Radici are used in high-performance components, polylactic acid (PLA) in door panels, soy-based foams in seat cushions and arm rests (most notably by Ford), and bio-based epoxy resins from Huntsman Chemical, among other suppliers, in composites. In May, the nova-Institut published an updated market study on bio-based polymers and their worldwide deployment.
At bio!CAR, experts from all segments touching on bio-based materials will present lectures on their latest developments. Among other materials, the portfolio will include conventional plastics filled or reinforced with natural-fiber products as well as bio-based, so called "drop-in" bioplastics, such as castor oil-based polyamides and polyolefins derived from sugar cane-based bioethanol. Bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) and polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT) will also be featured, as will bio-based alternatives for rubber and elastomers.
The co-located Composites Europe show, held from 22-24 September, will cover bio-based composites, as well. The dedicated "bio-based composites" theme pavilion will demonstrate which products can be realised from natural fibers already today. The spectrum ranges from raw materials to semi-finished goods to finished products for the automotive and aeronautics sectors.
In total, about 450 exhibitors from 30 nations will showcase the performance power of the entire composites industry at Composites Europe. A key focus will be on automation solutions that enable high-volume production processes for manufacturing composites components for automotive engineering, aerospace, boatbuilding as well as the wind energy, construction and other sectors.