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After two years, the second edition of bio!CAR is now scheduled for Sept. 20/21, 2017 (subject to changes). The conference will again be held in Stuttgart, Germany, parallel to Composites Europe.
The theme of the bio!CAR conference aimed to reflect the trend towards the increasing use of biobased polymers and natural fibres in the automotive industry: more and more manufacturers and suppliers are betting on biobased alternatives derived from renewable raw materials such as wood, flax, jute, sisal, cotton or coir, used as reinforcement materials, as well as reinforced or unreinforced, but biobased thermoplastics, thermoset or chemical building blocks. According to the Hürth-based nova-Institute, the European car industry processed approximately 80,000 tonnes (2012) of wood and natural fibres into composites. The total volume of bio-based composites in automotive engineering was 150,000 tonnes.
Bioplastics are equally useful for premium applications in the auto sector. Castor oil-based polyamides are used in high-performance components, polylactic acid (PLA) in door panels, soy-based foams in seat cushions and arm rests, and biobased epoxy resins in composites.
The bio!CAR conference was filled with a host of expert presentations on the latest developments, the overall market situation and the legal frameworks in the field of biobased materials. Today’s portfolio of these materials ranges from the conventional plastics filled or reinforced with sophisticated natural-fibre products to the biobased, drop-in plastics, such as castor oil-based polyamides, biobased epichlorohydrin for epoxy resins or biobased EPDM elastomers. And although one speaker commented that these drop-ins were ‘kind of boring because they cannot be differentiated from their fossil-based counterparts’, the majority of attendees agreed that the fact that these drop-ins are partly or fully biobased represents a significant advantage. Novel bioplastics, such as furfuryl alcohol or isosorbide-based bio-polycarbonate, were also featured.