Honda Motor Co., Ltd., announced it has succeeded in developing bio-fabric, a plant-based fabric with excellent durability and resistance to sunlight, for use as a surface material in automobile interiors. Bio-fabric offers the benefit of offsetting CO2 emissions produced during incineration in the disposal stage with CO2 absorption that occurs during the growth stage of the plants that are used as raw materials.
Despite this benefit, plant-based fabric has not been used commercially for automobile interiors due to concerns about limited durability and aesthetic issues.
Car seat with the new bio-fabric and a spool of yarn (left) and rolls of the bio-fabric (right)
The new bio-fabric developed by Honda overcame such issues, and achieved a soft and smooth material appropriate for the surface of automobile interiors, with high durability and excellent resistance to sunlight to prevent color fading after prolonged use. In addition to seat surfaces, this bio-fabric can be used for the interior surface of the doors and roof and for floor mats. Honda will install these bio-fabric interiors to the company’s all-new fuel cell vehicle which will be introduced to the market within next three years.
A polyester material called PPT (polypropylene terephthalate) is the basic material of the bio-fabric. PPT is produced through polymerization of 1-3PDO (propanediol), which is produced from corn, and terephthalic acid, a petroleum-based component. In order to improve stability as a fabric, Honda applied a multi-thread structure for the fiber. In addition, unprecedented aesthetic properties were achieved by leveraging the flexibility of this fiber.
Based on the concept of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), Honda has been striving to reduce CO2 emissions throughout the entire life cycle of an automobile – from production and usage to disposal. Due to the use of a plant-based ingredient in the production of raw materials, the newly developed bio-fabric will enable Honda to reduce energy used during the production process by 10 to 15% compared to the production of petroleum-based polyester materials.
The use of a plant-based ingredient can reduce 5 kilogram CO2 emissions per automobile. Further, the new bio-fabric does not require changes in existing fabric production processes, and is suitable for mass production. Honda will first introduce bio-fabric interiors with the new fuel cell vehicle, then try to gradually expand the application to new models from 2009 and beyond.
Source: Honda Worldwide May 25, 2006.