Covestro provides sustainable composite material for Toyota electric concept car
The Toyota LQ is a concept electric vehicle. Source | Covestro
Material solutions provider Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany) reported on Feb. 26 that it has been chosen by Toyota Boshoku Corp. (a car component manufacturer of the Toyota Group) to jointly develop a new polyurethane composite material for use on the Toyota Motor Corp.’s electric concept car LQ.
The lightweight, sustainable material is based on a combination of Covestro’s advanced Baypreg F NF technology and Toyota Boshoku’s expertise in using kenaf fibers. This new kenaf fiber-reinforced polyurethane foam composite material will be used on the LQ’s door trims.
Kenaf is a member of the hibiscus genus and is growing in regions such as Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, India and Africa. The fiber is obtained from bast fibers of the kenaf plant and has recently attracted increasing attention as a cost-effective raw material with good mechanical properties, Covestro says. In the automotive industry, the plant fiber is also said to be attracting increasing interest as an alternative raw material.
Covestro and Toyota Boshoku’s kenaf fiber-reinforced polyurethane foam composite is characterized by a very low area density of less than 1 kilogram per square meter, as well as high strength. The door trim made from this material is said to be 30% lighter than that produced from conventional materials. Lightweight materials also enable the car to travel farther on a single gas or battery charge.
The new composite material was developed in close cooperation between
Toyota Boshoku and Covestro's recently renovated Japanese Innovation Center.
“Our joint development makes an important contribution to the design of
particularly lightweight and sustainable vehicles,” says Hiroaki Ido, head of
Polyurethanes Application Development for Transportation at Covestro’s
Japanese Innovation Center. “It is also a good example of our company’s focus
on using alternative raw materials and establishing a circular economy.”
No longer dependent only on their green credentials, some suppliers of bio-based fibers and resins are competing on price and performance.
Fibers used to reinforce composites are supplied directly by fiber manufacturers and indirectly by converters in a number of different forms, which vary depending on the application. Here's a guide to what's available.
Suppliers and adventurous composites fabricators put the “feel good” aspect in the rearview mirror, winning customers by competing on price and performance.