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Materials supplier Trinseo supported a premium German automotive OEM with a recyclate-containing grade that requires 29% less energy and 22% less water to produce.

Stephen Moore

May 29, 2023

2 Min Read
PC/ABS alloy in car interior
Image courtesy of Trinseo

As the mobility revolution gears up, manufacturers are facing increased challenges. Not only is the development and engineering of hybrid, electric, and autonomous vehicles complex, there’s also constant pressure from regulators to meet economy, safety, and sustainability requirements, along with consumer demand for performance, digital connectivity, and aesthetics. Plastics can play a key role in many ways, from lightweighting and metal replacement to using bio-based feedstocks. Recyclate-containing content in the makeup of a resin is another way to create a solution with a lower footprint without sacrificing material performance.

To this end, materials supplier Trinseo took up a challenge presented by a leading premium German automaker and developed a polycarbonate/acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (PC/ABS) material for interior automotive applications incorporating 30% recycled content. In doing so, the company delivered a solution with 24% less global warming potential compared with an all-prime resin. Approximately 7.000 tonnes of CO2 were saved over the lifetime of the project. To boot, production of the drop-in grade, dubbed Pulse GX50 ECO PC/ABS, required 29% less energy and 22% less water.

Contributing to carbon neutrality

One of Trinseo’s Tier 1 partners was approached by its OEM customer in the development phase of a new premium SUV, with the request to change the proposed PC/ABS material for the top roll and support of the vehicle’s doors with a more sustainable grade for series production. This request came as a result of the OEM’s ambitious environmental initiative, which, among other goals, aims to offer a fully-carbon neutral passenger car fleet by 2039.

To meet the customer’s request, the Tier 1 supplier validated a more sustainable PC/ABS compound against the manufacturer’s stringent standard that could work as a drop-in solution with the injection molding tools and within the tight project schedule.

Trinseo’s Pulse GX50 PC/ABS was used by the Tier partner for the development phase, and the Pulse GX50 ECO PC/ABS with recyclat-containing PC was selected as the more sustainable solution for series production. Trinseo’s Pulse GX50 is widely used for the manufacturing of door panel parts for several existing premium models of the OEM; the selection was approved for use in the development phase of the SUV’s door panel, while the more sustainable version was tested in parallel as a drop-in solution for models using Trinseo’s all-prime material.

Performance on a par with prime

Pulse GX50 ECO PC/ABS is comparable in performance to its all-prime equivalent and comes with strong technical features, including superior flow properties, low temperature ductility, and low density. The backbone of Pulse GX50 ECO is Trinseo Magnum ABS, meaning that it has inherently low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it ideal for interior applications.

Testing validated that Pulse GX50 ECO is a drop-in equivalent of its all-prime counterpart, meeting the requirements set by the OEM’s standards and the crash performance on the existing platform, where it was used for the final validation round of the SUV project. Trinseo delivers about four kg of Pulse GX50 ECO PC/ABS for each vehicle.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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