A. Schulman, Inc. announced that its AgriPlas(TM) wheat straw fiber bio-filler, as featured in Ford’s new Flex crossover vehicle, was a Blue Ribbon Finalist for an Environmental Innovation Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers’ (SPE) Automotive Division. The application is for an injection-molded storage bin and inner lid for the interior of the Ford Flex.
The AgriPlas product is polypropylene containing a “bio-filler,” wheat straw fiber, which is a by-product of harvesting wheat. The use of wheat straw fiber as a bio-filler offers several advantages compared with talc- and/or glass-filled polypropylene.
Based on the specific experience with this award-winning application for Ford, the advantages include:
— Weight savings of approximately 10 percent
— Increased dimensional stability
— First industrial application of a wheat straw-reinforced plastic
— Less energy used in manufacturing due to lower machine temperatures
— Lower carbon footprint – produces 1.30 kilograms less of carbon
dioxide per kilogram of product based on Ford’s analysis
“We are very pleased to receive this important industry recognition for our AgriPlas wheat straw bio-filler on the Ford Flex,” said Paul Boulier, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of A. Schulman. “The initial success with the AgriPlas bio-filler is an encouraging step in delivering innovative new products that use renewable materials. Our partnership with Ford in this application has opened up interesting possibilities for A. Schulman in the area of bio-filled polymers.”
An interior storage bin may seem like a small start, but it opens the door for more applications, said Dr. Ellen Lee, technical expert, Ford’s Plastics Research. “We see a great deal of potential for other applications since wheat straw has good mechanical properties, can meet our performance and durability specifications and can further reduce our carbon footprint – all without compromise to the customer,” she said.
The Blue Ribbon Finalist team included Ford, A. Schulman, the University of Waterloo, Omtec and Tier One supplier International Automotive Components. The University of Waterloo has led the agricultural fiber project that included the wheat straw fiber development as a member of the Ontario BioCar Initiative. Ford joined the University of Waterloo and A. Schulman team to fuel the project development.
“Without Ford’s driving force and contribution, we would have never been able to move from academia to industry in such lightning speed,” said Leonardo Simon, associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo.
A. Schulman is investigating other possible uses for the AgriPlas wheat straw fiber in several non-automotive applications, as well as additional automotive interior and under-the-hood applications. For more information about AgriPlas bio-fillers, visit www.aschulman.com/agriplas.
About A. Schulman, Inc.
Headquartered in Akron, Ohio, A. Schulman is a leading international supplier of high-performance plastic compounds and resins. These materials are used in a variety of consumer, industrial, automotive and packaging applications. The Company employs about 2,000 people and has 16 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. Revenues for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2009, were $1.3 billion. Additional information about A. Schulman can be found at www.aschulman.com.