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China is among several countries planning to implement a national standard governing VOC levels in automobiles. The standard will likely be introduced in January 2016 with a one-year grace period for automakers to comply.Material suppliers will play a key enabling role for OEMs to achieve the emission standards and one such company is adopting a holistic approach to deliver compounds that will comply with the new regulations.

June 18, 2015

3 Min Read
Supplier steps up low-VOC compound deployment

China is among several countries planning to implement a national standard governing VOC levels in automobiles. The standard will likely be introduced in January 2016 with a one-year grace period for automakers to comply.

Material suppliers will play a key enabling role for OEMs to achieve the emission standards and one such company is adopting a holistic approach to deliver compounds that will comply with the new regulations.

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Borouge's Chen: VOC test methods vary from OEM to OEM.

Explained Umberto Granata, Vice President, Marketing Centre Mobility at Borouge Sales and Marketing (Shanghai) in an interview with PlasticsToday at the recent Chinaplas show in Guangzhou, "The first step was to ensure our [polypropylene] polymers possessed high purity through controlling the polymerization process but we also needed to ensure that the additives we used were also VOC-free." In addition, "We needed to ensure that converters were processing our resins appropriately. If they did so at unduly high temperatures, migration [of VOCs] would be boosted." Borouge has prepared a manual explaining its theories related to VOC-minimization approach."

Low VOCs are of particular importance in China according to Granata because cars are generally delivered straight after they roll off the production line. "In Europe, the car may be 3-6 months' old before it is sold so the odor of VOCs has time to dissipate."

Borouge faced numerous challenges in its efforts to develop low VOC compounds, above all on account of the fact that automakers adopt their own proprietary test methods for measuring emissions. "One OEM might employ a 500-liter metal barrel, another a 1-cubic meter chamber, and another a 10-liter Tedlar gas sampling bag," noted Celia Chen Application Marketing Manager, Marketing Centre Mobility at Borouge. "We need to test our compounds and parts molded from the under all these different scenarios," she added. "But we will be able to prove to the OEMs that our products are not the source of VOC emissions. They may be from other sources such as adhesives, foams, and other plastics." Chen notes that while sometimes all individual materials meet the new standard, this may not be the case at the sub-assembly or fully-assembled level, presenting challenges to OEMs in identifying the exact sources or emissions.

The new Chinese national standard will be equivalent to the "Guideline for air quality assessment of passenger car (GB/T 27630-2011)" introduced in 2012. It covers eight substances including dichlorobenzenes, xylenes, butyl acetate, benzene, toluene, styrene, n- undecane, and ethylbenzene.

Lightweighting grade

Borouge also highlighted a new low density PP material (L001AIC) for door cladding is 7% lighter than a conventional material with a 16% talc loading. "The grade features a good stiffness and impact balance with a talc loading of just 6%," said Chen. "Some OEMs are still using grades with talc loading of 20% so they could gain even more savings," she noted. The door cladding component on show at Chinaplas was 80 g lighter than a part molded from a standard grade. L001AIC's density is 0.93 g/cm3 versus 1.01 for standard grade EE189HPC.

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