report by Liz White, editor
Replacing some proportion of the traditional petrochemically-derived polyols used in polyurethane formulations has been one of the major trends of the past decade or so, as companies jockey for the ‘most green’ supplier trophy.
Ford Motor Co. in the US, for example, is sending out a clear message here, that its use of natural oil polyols (NOPs) is widening. In fact Ford has just announced that it is now using higher levels of soya polyols in headrest foam, of up to 25 percent (see box).
Foam makers UTI spoke to recently, however, noted wide variation in the extent of use of such materials by original equipment manufacturers, especially in Europe.
“Everybody is doing it,” said Philippe Motte, polyurethane foams expertise manager at French vehicle seat maker Faurecia. “Everybody has developed a solution. We have worked with PSA for instance. They’ve even put it in their spec.”
Motte added that PSA has a specification for a minimum of 6 percent by weight of bio-mass for foam.
But the Faurecia expert also noted that there is a big debate within Europe about carbon dioxide balance. “If you have to import your product from across the ocean – your soya from the US maybe the CO2 balance is not in favour of bio-mass.” But if you source materials from France, “then it works,” he added.
For foam the choice is bio-polyol, “but the spec is bio-mass,” Motte said, in a 16 Aug telephone interview. All seats from PSA have this…