Volvo Trucks is using SABIC's Valox iQ polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) resin, made in part out of recycled plastic bottles, for the brackets of the side air deflection system in all seven models of its 2012 Volvo VN family of heavy trucks.
Although many other recycled plastics typically lose performance after undergoing successive melt histories, the upcycled Valox iQ resins have comparable or better performance than conventionally manufactured materials, including excellent resistance to impact, chemicals, and stress fatigue.
“Upcycling costs more and is harder to do technically,” Kenneth Miller, sustainability general manager for technology and innovation at SABIC Innovative Plastics, told us, at the NPE2012 show in Orlando, Fla. “The need to improve fuel efficiency and dramatically reduce weight is pushing truck manufacturers to find lightweighting solutions. For example, some heavy truck manufacturers are trying to reduce their models’ weights from six tons to five tons.” Volvo’s action is the first time an upcycled material made from post-consumer recycled content has been used in a North American heavy truck.
Plastic bottles upcycled through chemical recycling have become Valox iQ PBT used to make the brackets of the side air deflection system in all seven models of Volvo's VN family of 2012 heavy trucks. (Source: SABIC Innovative Plastics)
SABIC worked closely with Volvo to achieve a sustainable materials solution that was also a high performing one, providing application development and technical support, said Miller. “Sustainability requires more collaboration between SABIC and our customers, especially because of shorter design cycles. Sometimes, we find that what looks like a materials problem is really a design problem.” Additional lightweighting is achieved in the Volvo truck family with SABIC ‘s Noryl GTX resin for the fenders, Cycoloy resin for the grille, and clear Lexan resin for forward lighting.
SABIC’s Valox iQ resin contains up to 60 percent post-consumer recycled content and can help reduce the resin’s carbon footprint by up to 49 percent compared to virgin PBT resins, Michael Gilbert, Innovative Plastics general manager, told me. “For every kilogram of Valox iQ we use about 0.85 kg of PET bottles in a chemical recycling process. SABIC is also a net consumer of recycled plastic in our own facilities, especially our Lexan polycarbonate and Valox PBT and polyester.” Valox iQ PBT resin also has about 10 percent to 15 percent higher flow than standard PBT resins.
notarboca, thanks for the explanation. We are discussing materials, here, not processes. I agree that the more it is used the greater the benefit. So far, all of these new materials are discovered and provided by commercial entities, so I'm not sure how they could be provided or distributed without without commercialization.
What I meant was if more manufacturers were using this, or a similar process, it would be of great benefit. Commercialization is very good, too; you discover the process, you can license it and profit from it.
notarboca, can you tell us what you mean? This material and Axion's material use in the Scottish bridge are both proprietary processes developed by industry and commercialized. What alternative method were you thinking of?
Great article. Is this the same genearl process / material that was discussed in a previous piece relating to bridge construction? It seems that there are more and more uses for this. Maybe, some day soon there will be profit in recycling and municipalities can subsidized their budgets out of recycling rather than having to pay for mandated programs.
bobjengr, glad you enjoyed the article. The SABIC representatives I met with mentioned that their Innovative Plastics division originated in the former GE group. I was really impressed with what SABIC has accomplished. That said, SABIC is a Saudi Arabian company, not an American one, without all of the constraints (even for beneficient reasons) American ones have and with many social and political conditions US engineers might not want to live with.
There was no mention of this specific material used for Volvo's side air deflection brackets also being used for under-hood applications (I would have reported it, since I'm interested in that application, too). SABIC did not say if it is developing a version of this material, or other materials, for that use. In what I've seen in the market to date, handling hot and cold air and handling under-hood temps are apps with two different sets of specs.
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