Missisauga, Ontario – Scientists at Woodbridge have developed a biogenic version of its black TrimVisible PU foam for moulded car seats. The company said this allows a cradle-to-gate reduction in carbon footprint for the foam, while retaining its performance and comfort.
TrimVisible Bio uses waste from lumber processing instead of carbon black as a key additive. The material is close to 100% carbon, and is produced via a proprietary pyrolysis process, developed in house at Woodbridge in Ontario. The lumber waste comes from a nearby Forest Stewardship Council certified forest.
According to Andrew Kee, director of sustainability & corporate scientist at Woodbridge, the process locks the carbon from the waste into the material, rather than becoming a source of CO2 emissions as it decays or is incinerated. ‘It imparts hardness to the foam, and is an alternative to styrene-acrylonitrile filler,’ he said. ‘We haven’t had to change the manufacturing methodologies for the foam in any way.
Importantly, he said, the foam remains a low VOC and low odour product, meeting all current requirements for the automotive sector. The heat generated during the additive’s manufacture is reused within the plant, and the company has carried out an extensive life-cycle analysis, which is in the process of gaining third-party certification. ‘We have a negative global warming potential for the material we put into the foam,’ Kee said. ‘We’re looking at actively promoting up to 10% biogenic C content. That’s exciting as it enables up to a 15% GWP reduction.’
The company is also looking at its potential in other automotive PU products, such as headliners, body cloth foams, cargo liners and package trays. Kee said that the technology is now application-ready, with process testing having been carried out during the production downturn in the automotive sector.
‘It’s unprecedented compared to other technologies such as bio-based polyols,’ he said. ‘They make an impact relative to CO2 footprint reduction for PUs, but this is a net CO2 sink material.’