By Liz White, UT editor
Southfield, Michigan-Following a recent announcement from Ford Motor Co. that is has developed a soya-based polyurethane foam for car seating, Lear Corp. has announced its development of 'SoyFoam,' a flexible foam material based on polyols made from soya beans.
"Our research and testing has proven that SoyFoam solutions will withstand a mass production environment and meet or exceed performance requirements," said Ash Galbreath, director of Lear's Environmental Comfort Engineering, in a company announcement. Galbreath added that the recent breakthrough in foam technology based on renewable soya-based polyols are "of great interest to our worldwide customers."
SoyFoam's advantages for automotive interiors include "a lower environmental impact to produce, the soya-based foam material is up to 24 percent renewable as opposed to traditional non-renewable petroleum-based foam, it reduces dependency on volatile energy markets and it offers the potential for reducing foam costs as use in automotive applications reaches critical mass," said a 14 Dec announcement from Lear.
Lear points out that Ford was the first automotive manufacturer to demonstrate that soya-based polyols could be used at high levels (about 40 percent) to make foams capable of meeting or exceeding automotive requirements.
And the Southfield-based automotive interiors giant revealed that it formed a partnership with Ford in 2004, to commercialise SoyFoam uses. Initially this will focus on moulded headrest and armrest parts, Lear said. Lear points out that it is also collaborating in this development area with the new uses committee of the United Soybean Board (a group of 64 farmers/agricultural industry leaders), and with Urethane Soy Systems Co., Bayer Corp. and Renosol Corp."