Mitsubishi Motors develops new eco-friendly floor mats using plant-based fibers

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), working with EIDAIKAKO Co. Ltd, MRC Pylen Co. Ltd and Toyota Tsusho Corporation, has developed a new floor mat made using plant-based bio-polyethylene (bio-PE) fiber to add to its lineup of proprietary plant-based "Green Plastic" products. The company plans to start production of the new floor mats in the summer of 2012. Bio-PE is a plant-based resin made using sugarcane molasses (a thick syrup produced in the refining of raw sugar). The company has developed the bio-PE fiber for use in floor mat piling with an eye toward reducing usage of petroleum-based plastics and cutting CO2 emissions. As opposed to conventional petroleum-based floormats, the fiber in this new floormat has a core-sheath structure in which the bio-PE core is covered with conventional petroleum-based polypropylene (PP) sheath which allows it to meet the high levels of performance demanded of car floor mats, including abrasion and heat resistance. In-house calculations indicate that the new bio-PE fiber floor mat achieves a 15% reduction in life-cycle CO2 emissions over a similar mat made using petroleum-based PP fiber. (Plant-based materials are carbon neutral (a carbon-cycle concept which holds that CO2 emissions given off when a plant is burnt can be offset by the CO2 absorbed during photosynthesis in another plant in its growth process) and so allow a reduction in CO2 emissions throughout a product's lifecycle compared to petroleum-based materials.) In its efforts to stop global warming and reduce dependence on petroleum, MMC is conducting research and development of a series of proprietary plant-based "Green Plastics" to replace petroleum-based plastics used widely in car parts today. The company's current range of plant-based Green Plastics products includes materials made using liquefied wood-based phenolic resins and interior surface materials which combine PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and cotton fibers. MMC will continue to push forward the development and the commercial application of these and other Green Plastics.
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