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Faurecia presents advancements in use of natural composites

News International-French

27 Nov 2013

The company introduces adavncements in use of natural materials for interior structures, including: Biomat, a 100 percent bio-based fibers and matrices alike, NAFILean, a hemp-based material and Lignolite a substance made from wood fibers.

One of the most significant recent developments in vehicle lightweighting and sustainability is the movement toward abandoning oil-based plastics in favor of natural substances for interior structures.

Faurecia has pursued the development of these types of materials over the past seven years through its BioAttitude program. At the LA Auto Show, the company introduced natural fibers integrated with new bio-based polymers for injection molding of interior structures.

Bringing nature-based content into high-performance material for injected instrument panels, center consoles and door panels is NAFILean (Natural Fiber for Lean Injected Design). This process is used for invisible components such as trim parts, top covers and air ducts.

It consists in natural hemp-based  fibers with polypropylene for producing injected parts. Over the life of a vehicle, components made with NAFILean will lessen their environmental impact by 20 to 25 percent.

The new Peugeot 208, introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, feteaures NAFILean in door panels.

A Faurecia project called BioMat advances the NAFILean process all the way to a mixture of completely natural substances, creating an injection material with 100 percent bio-based fibers and matrix alike.

In collaboration with Mitsubishi Chemicals and others partners, Faurecia created new processes for extracting substances from natural sources for the matrix of the injection material. Last year they joined forces to finalize development of an optimized polybutylene succinate (PBS) and overcome a number of technical challenges.

Among the barriers they faced were potential biodegradation, confirming the stability of the matrix when exposed to the environment, reducing its high viscosity, compensating for the unavoidable variability in fibers and creating a new manufacturing process to produce the material.

The company anticipates BioMat will appearing in vehicles on the roads as early as 2016.

LignoLite and NFPP
While NAFILean and BioMat stand for injection processes, a third innovation from Faurecia uses natural fibers in traditional compression processes.

With LignoLite, the company combines wood fibers with oil-based binders to create lightweight rigid parts. This material is composed of 85 percent wood fibers.

The Mercedes-Benz S-class has used LignoLite for door panels, recognizing that this material can reduce the weight by a much as 45 percens compared to traditional injected carriers.

The company also provide door panels with inserts made from natural fibers other than wood for the 2012 Volkswagen Golf. Called Natural Fiber Polypropylene (NFPP), this compressions technology also enables faster production with its one-step compression and covering process.

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