Baytown, Texas - Bayer MaterialScience says the push of automotive OEMs to reduce vehicle weight includes replacing traditional steel with lighter materials, such as composites, aluminium and plastic.
While bioplastics, recycling and other solutions are part of the discussion, to truly understand the benefits of plastic over heavier materials, a material's entire lifecycle has to be considered, BMS says in a recent automotive update.
The weight savings gained from replacing glass or steel with plastic can be converted into annual environmental impact. Bayer's Bayflex RIM Light Weight polyurethane system makes body panels lighter than metal and even lighter than previous polyurethane solutions. Thanks to a clever combination of fillers, the new material system produces parts that are 20 to 30 percent lighter than standard polyurethane solutions - without compromising the excellent mechanical properties.
Plastics - made from oil or not - significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions during the life of the vehicle, by significantly reducing the vehicle's mass.
A study commissioned by Bayer has shown that replacing glass in backlight, roof and rear quarter window with plastic can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 728 lb per vehicle during a vehicle's service life of 95 000 miles. These calculations applied across a hypothetical annual production volume of 250 000 vehicles, are shown below.
Total weight savings per vehicle 15.4 kg
Annual production volume 250,000 vehicles
Average driving distance per vehicle 15,000 km/yr*
Fuel savings per vehicle 0.8 l/100 km/100 kg
Total annual fuel savings 4 620 000 l
Total annual CO2 emissions savings 6640 tonnes