Hot Wheels: Bioplastic’s Thermal Properties Open Up Automotive Applications


In Japan, a professor at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has created a biobased polyimide that is heat resistant up to 400 degrees Celsius, opening up opportunities for bioplastics in automotive applications.

Tatsuo Kaneko synthesized the biobased polyimide using Escherichia coli and glucose extracted from corn to produce amino cinnamic acid, which was then irradiated with ultraviolet light.

Kaneko tells Nation Multimedia the bioplastics can be used for automobile engine cylinders, among other automotive parts, and weigh less than incumbent materials. And, because the polyimide is transparent, it could also be used for window frames, light covers, and sunroofs.

Other efforts to develop lightweight, high-heat-resistance biobased materials in Japan include Fuji Consulting & Associate’s lignophenol. The material can be used for automotive heat insulators. “We confirmed the lightweight properties at the trial stage, so we want to continue verification of its strength and heat resistance from here on,” Fuji says.

Japan’s Environment Ministry is working to verify the findings by both Kaneko and Fuji.