25 August 2009

Toyota: PLA Nonwovens for New Hybrid Lexus

Plans for kenaf-reinforced bioplastics for concept cars

Japan’s Toyota continues to pioneer the use of bioplastics and the new 2010 Toyota Lexus HS250h luxury hybrid vehicle includes nonwoven components supplied by both Toyota Boshoku and Toray Industries.

The nonwovens for the parcel rack and boot liner supplied by Toyota Boshoku for this new model are manufactured from a blend of PLA (polylactic acid) and conventional polypropylene and the company next plans to go a stage further and supply nonwovens made from a combination of the raw plant material kenaf with PLA for Toyota’s next-generation i-REAL personal mobility concept vehicles.

Toray Industries, meanwhile, has supplied nonwovens made from islands-in-the-sea bicomponent fibres containing between 30-50% PLA for the floor carpets of the Lexus HS250h, and their application is likely to be extended to headliners and door trim in the future.

Toray currently has the capacity to produce around 200 tonnes of this new PLA bico fibre annually, but is planning to expand capacity to an annual 5,000 tonnes by 2015, and to extend its use into other areas.

Toyota’s development of car components employing natural fibres and biomaterials will be the subject of a paper presented at the Composites Technical Conference which takes place alongside JEC Asia in Singapore from October 14-16. Toyota Auto Body’s project manager Nishimura Takuya will provide details of the COMS-BP electric vehicle, which employs bio-plastics including the hood, pillars and roof.

Source: Ecocomposites, 20009-08-22.

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