The LIFE BIOBCOMPO project aims at reducing the environmental footprint of new vehicles through innovative low density thermoplastic composites derived from renewable (bio-based) sources.

The specific objectives of LIFE BIOBCOMPO are:

To develop at industrial level very low density thermoplastic materials

which allows to save up to 8% in weight with respect to traditional compounds by using natural fillers combined with traditional polymers and physical/chemical expanders.

To replace conventional mineral fibres

with bio-based fibres thus promoting the use of more sustainable resources.

To demonstrate these new technology at industrial scale

aiming to overcome the problems related to industrialization of the newly proposed solutions.

The objective of LIFE BIOBCOMPO is not only to reduce the vehicle emissions but also to make the production
costs of such lightweight composites compatible with the client requirements and make sure that the new materials will be fully recyclable and the end of their life-cycle.

The environmental goal is to reduce the vehicle CO2 emissions by 8% with respect to current values.

The development of a recycling process for the composite materials and verification of recycling potential is one of the key issues. One action is devoted to the monitoring of economic, societal and environmental impacts.
In particular, LIFE BIOBCOMPO will contribute to demonstrate:

  • a weight reduction of the vehicle components of 8% with a proportional CO2 emmission reduction
  • optimization of thermo-mechanical and functional/aesthetic properties of materials and components
  • the sustainability and minimization of the environmental impact
  • Reduced cost of production of compounds by selecting proper fillers coming from recycling sources.

The bio-composites developed and optimized with this project, will have good thermo-mechanical properties, an high aesthetic value, good dimensional stability and they will pass all the qualification tests, in accord to FCA standards. In order to guarantee UV resistance and weathering resistance it will be evaluated the possibility to cover the component through painting or coating.

Expected Results

  • At least one of the bio-based composite formulation developed by SAPA in a previous research and development program (BIOPOLIS), will be optimized and industrialized for the production of automotive component.
  • The most promising bio-composite developed is a polypropylene (PP) matrix reinforced with 20% of vegetable fibres. This material has been mechanically, thermally and rheological characterized, and applied to the injection moulding mould some components of FCA Alfa Romeo Giulia car which are actually made of PP 20% of glass fibres (GF) reinforced.
  • In BIOBCOMPO the bio-based formulations will be optimized, characterized and fully qualified to ensure their industrial exploitation. The moulding process will be optimized to ensure the best technical and economic performance.
  • The replacement of PP matrix reinforced with 20% of mineral GF (density of 1.04 g/cm3) with 20% of cellulose fibres CF (density of 0.96 g/cm3) will mean a weight saving of 8% that in turn will reflect into a proportional reduction of CO2 emissions from the vehicle. To calculate the absolute CO2 emission saving, we have assumed that a vehicle weight reduction of 100 kg will bring to a reduction of 11 g of CO2 per Km.
    For our calculation we considered the components of Alfa Romeo Giulia. Given the type and weight of components and the number of cars per year, the total annual reduction of CO2 emissions is 1.23 Kg per Km. Estimating an (very conservative) average annual driving distance of 10,000 km per car this would mean a total emission saving of 12,3 tons of CO2 per year. In other words, it means 246 tons of CO2 over the typical vehicle lifetime (200.000 km).

At the end of BIOBCOMPO we expect to replace the PP 20% GF with lower density CF bio-composite but also to optimize other formulations to replace other traditional plastic compounds used by FCA such as PP copolymer 20% mineral filled, PP filled with 15% of GF and 15% talc and, PP 40% GF. The final goal is to get comparable performance without increasing the production cost of course. Therefore, in 2023, by assuming the industrial exploitation of bio-based materials on Alfa Giulia and Fiat 500X, we estimate a CO2 emission saving of about 6.16 Kg per Km calculated on 90.000 vehicles.

LIFE BIOBCOMPO will contribute to demonstrate a transformative impact on climate global warming

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