Honda has developed a plant-based fabric for use as a material for car interiors. The ‘Bio-fabric’ offsets all CO2 emissions produced during the disposal stage of the car, through the CO2 absorption that occurs during the growth stage of the plants used as the raw materials.
In the past, plant-based fabric has not been used commercially for car interiors due to concerns about limited durability and aesthetic issues.
But the new bio-fabric developed by Honda is a soft and smooth material appropriate for the surface of car interiors, with high durability and excellent resistance to sunlight to prevent colour fading after prolonged use. In addition to seat surfaces, this bio-fabric can be used for the interior surface of the doors and roof and for floor mats. Honda will install these bio-fabric interiors to the company’s all-new fuel cell vehicle which will be introduced to the market within the next three years.
A polyester material called PPT (polypropylene terephthalate) is the basic material of the bio-fabric. PPT is produced through polymerization of 1-3PDO (propanediol), which is produced from corn, and terephthalic acid, a petroleum-based component. In order to improve stability as a fabric, Honda applied a multi-thread structure for the fibre. In addition, unprecedented aesthetic properties were achieved by leveraging the flexibility of this fibre.
Based on the concept of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), Honda has been striving to reduce CO2 emissions throughout the entire life cycle of a car - from production and usage, to disposal.
Due to the use of a plant-based ingredient in the production of raw materials, the newly developed bio-fabric will enable Honda to reduce energy used during the production process by 10 to 15% compared to the production of petroleum-based polyester materials. The use of a plant-based ingredient can reduce the CO2 emissions of each car by 5kg.
Furthermore, the new bio-fabric does not require changes in existing fabric production processes, and is suitable for mass production.
Honda’s centre in Gresham, America is full of chairs made from recycled car bumpers, floors from recycled tyres and wallpaper recycled from old phone books.Published 27 May 2006