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Funding type:  Public funding project of the 7th Framework Programme – Knowledge Based Bio-Economy (KBBE)

Goal: reduction of the environmental impacts of automotive components replacing the polymeric materials with materials recycled from end of life vehicles and using natural fibers (wood fiber and wood flour) instead of mineral fibers (glass fiber).
Motivation: research of market demands for materials coming from end of life vehicles (ELVs) and so achievement of the recycling and recovery targets of the ELVs planned from 2015 (reuse-recycling 85% by weight and reuse-recovery 95% by weight).
Main partners of the project:
·          University of Pisa (Coordinator) - UNIPI (Italy)
·          Centro Ricerche Fiat - CRF (Italy)
·          PEMU Plastic Processing co. - PEMU (Hungary)
·          Fundacion CARTIF (Spain)
·          Organic Waste Systems - OWS (Belgium)
·          Budapest University of Technology and Economics - LPRT (Hungary)
·          Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry - IWC (Latvia)
·          University of Almeria - UAL (Spain)
·          Ritols Ltd - RIT (Latvia)
Start:     01/07/2008
Last: 48 months
Achieved results:The performed activities have been planned following an accurate approach in order to define both the characteristics of materials investigated in the project and the technical requirements for their use in automotive applications. Preliminary studies on the state of the art of materials from natural resources have been performed evaluating, in particular, their availability and market. Therefore, the research activities have been focused on characterizing such materials and on defining technical specifications for their use in automotive components (seat pan). For each typology of formulation, being able to fulfill such requirements, has been realized at least a prototype.
The raw materials, wood coming from conifers (pines) and broad-leaved (poplars) trees, have been used both as wood fiber and as wood flour.
Differences between the two typologies concern not just the material location (fibers from Germany, wood flour from Italy), but also quality and cost (fibers are of higher quality than the wood flour, but more expensive because the production process has further steps).
The formulation evaluated and selected for injection molding the seat pan prototypes are the followings:
·          Polypropylene + 10% fibra di vetro (reference solution)
·          Polypropylene recycled from end of life bumpers + 10% e 30% wood fiber
·          Polypropylene recycled from end of life bumpers + 10% e 30% wood flour
Each solution with wood needs specific additives, which allow the wood-plastic joining in the compounding phase, that is when different materilas are mixed together for the next molding process of the component.
The type of seat pan have been so evaluated from the environmental point of views with the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology in comparison with the reference solution.
From the LCA evaluation, it has been highlighted remarkable advantages mainly during the production phase, while in the use phase no particular improvements have been possible. As a matter of fact, the prototypes realized show comparable weights and so, being lightweighting the only factor affecting effectively the fuel consumption, in the use phase the environmental impacts are similar in respect with the references solution.
http://www.forbioplast.eu/)·          Further information on the Forbioplast project website (
·          May 27-31 2012 BiPoco conference – International Conference on Biobased Polymers and Composites (Hungary)