I wrote last year about the potential for growing use of wood-plastic composites in car design. Now comes word that bamboo-reinforced bioplastic may make its commercial debut in the interiors of Mitsubishi’s iMiEV Sport Air electric vehicle in 2010. Mitsubishi would not confirm the roll-out date, which has been rumored on car blogs. It’s no secret though tat Mitsubishi has been working on bamboo-reinforced bioplastic for at least four years. The Japanese OEM cuts bamboos into strips, removing the joints and then crushes them. Then hot steam is used to loosen the fibers, making it fit as a reinforcement. The bamboo will be reinforcing a novel bioplastic called PBS (polybutylene succinate) resins, which is derived from succinic acid and corn starch.
According to Mitsubishi’s tests, PBS/bamboo-fiber compound achieves an estimated 50% reduction in lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions over polypropylene. VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels are also reduced drastically over processed wood hardboards (roughly 85% in testing).
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
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