Chances are, when you think of “green” technology, your mind goes to something that has a resemblance, if not a direct connection, to something that’s a cross between granola and cardboard.
In addition to which, whatever it is probably isn’t very robust, or at least not as capable as that which would be otherwise used for the same application.
Consider the conditions under the hood of a Mercedes A-Class. The temperature is typically a continuous 200° C. It can hit peaks of 235° C.
So chances are, anything that is going to survive under there is going to have to have high levels of capability.
Yes, we know this Mercedes A-Class is white, not green.
In addition to which, if it is something that is cosmetic, it is going to have to look good, too.
Which brings us to the engine cover that they’re using for the gasoline-powered A-Class. It measures 575 x 550 mm, so it is sizeable. It is made with a plastic that contains glass fiber and mineral particulate reinforcement.
The material used to make that cover, EcoPaXX Q-HGM24 from DSM, is based on a polyamide 410. . .70% of which comes from the castor plant. That’s right: as in “castor oil.”
The part, produced for Mercedes by BBP Kunststoffwerk Marbach Baier GmbH, weighs 1.320 kg, which means it is comparatively light, which is important because fuel efficiency is one thing that Mercedes—like other OEMs—is chasing with some vigor given European Union CO2 regulations.
And speaking of CO2, according to Mercedes, the use of the bio-based polyamide for the engine cover, only about 40% of the CO2 emissions that would result from using a conventional polyamide are generated in the production of the engine cover.
(For more on bio-based materials, check this story out, which appears in the March 2013 print issue of Automotive Design & Production: “DuPont’s Approach to Bio-based Plastics.”)