Two things are going on in the market right now. One is that end-product consumers are showing an increased interest in sourcing things that are, actually or ostensibly, “green.” The other is that petroleum prices are driving up the cost of plenty of products, particularly those which use petroleum in their very makeup. Like plastics. The Dow Chemical Co. (www.dow.com) has announced that having been working on natural oil-based polyols since the early 1990s, it has developed what it is calling “RENUVA Technology,” which the company claims uses up to 60% fewer fossil fuel materials than conventional polyol technologies and is, in addition, greenhouse gas neutral.
One of the problems that have been vexing to those using soybean oil for the basis of making things like plastic products is that the end products smell. There is a rank odor associated with them. (You don’t want to smell it.) Dow maintains that its process reacts broken-down and functionalized soybean oil molecules with traditional polyurethane components, such that the resulting polyols have consistent performance and no odor problem.
The material can be used for a number of automotive applications, including foams of different types for: energy absorption, fascias, seating, headliners, IPs, arm rests, headrests, and consoles.—GSV