While the practice of biomaterial recovery may not be an apparent hot-button in manufacturing, it is slowly gaining ground as an environmental hero.
Biomaterial Recovery Gains Footing in Automotive Manufacturing
As the world continues to evolve into a greener planet, many of the leading automotive giants have begun to incorporate the use of biomaterial waste in their vehicle line production methods; a signal to parts manufacturers that the use of biomaterial waste is highly likely to become more important in the future.
- air baffles
- under hood parts
- cushion material
- radiator tanks
The Economy of Environmental Economy
Biomaterials are any materials farmed from living organisms and recovered as byproducts of agricultural production such as crops, trees, and algae. Bio-based manufacturing utilizes materials collected at the end of an intended use; for example, sawdust from the manufacture of wood furniture. Biomaterials reduce production costs, enhance the component design, and keep waste out of recycling and landfill facilities.
A shift to bio-filled plastics is imminent. Bio-based materials have the potential to produce fewer greenhouse gases, require less energy, and produce fewer toxic pollutants over time than products made from fossil fuels. Also, the cost of petroleum-based materials continues to rise, therefore the lower cost of bio-sourced goods is an increasingly more attractive solution.
Bio-Fiber Reinforced Polypropylene
Bio-filled plastic components represent a leading edge in manufacturing technology because they replace traditional minerals, which take energy to mine, with renewable bio-waste. Ritus Corporation has the capability to produce components that utilize bio-fibers sourced from true waste-products, none of which are grown exclusively for manufacturing. This allows customers to reduce their carbon footprint and decrease dependence on high-energy material compounds like fiberglass and talc.
Ford used a composite plastic_ reinforced with rice hulls_ in the wiring harness of its 2014 Ford F-150 pickup.
There are other compelling reasons to create components from thermoplastic bio-materials. In addition to the “green” aspect of using organic fibers, mold manufacturers find biomaterials offer great structural rigidity. The variety of material choices including grain hulls, nut shells, and paper pulp offer a wider variety of high-end and aesthetically pleasing finishes. Bio-filled plastics are lower in cost and also in weight when compared to products made from glass-filled resins, which is beneficial in the transportation of goods to market.