BioAmber, Faurecia and Mitsubishi collaborate on bioplastics

By BioAmber Inc. | November 06, 2012

BioAmber Inc. will be the supplier of biobased succinic acid to a Faurecia-Mitsubishi  Chemical Corp. partnership for the production of automotive plastics.  Faurecia has been conducting research into bioplastics derived from 100 percent natural materials since 2006 (BioMat project) and has now signed an exclusive industrial partnership agreement with Mitsubishi Chemical  to co-develop bioplastics designed for mass production for use in automotive interiors. Faurecia plans to develop a full range of bioplastics, which are set to see a boom in the 2015 to 2020 period.

The environmental constraints associated with vehicle weight reduction and the regulations intended to increase the recyclability of materials used in the automotive industry (85 percent in Europe by 2015) call for increased use of new materials derived from natural resources, which will ultimately replace petroleum-based plastics. This initiative also aims to ensure that the materials used have a positive impact on the product lifecycle (from initial extraction through to end-of-life).

The objective of the joint Faurecia-Mitsubishi  Chemical program is to develop a polymer that can be used in mass production for automotive interior parts (door panel trim strip, structural instrument panel and console inserts, air ducts, door panel inserts, etc.). The joint development will start by modifying Mitsubishi Chemical’s patented biomass-derived  poly-butylene  succinate (PBS) and ultimately target to be  produced from 100 percent bio sources. BioAmber will be the supplier of biobased  succinic acid to the partnership. Under the terms of the agreement, Faurecia will hold  exclusive rights  to  automotive applications of the specific polymers jointly developed under this project. This project builds on several years of development work carried out jointly with BioAmber, the leading specialist in biobased succinic acid technology.

“This strategic agreement with Mitsubishi Chemical will make Faurecia the first automotive equipment supplier to mass produce a 100 percent biobased  plastic,” said Nicolas Pechnyk, vice  president of engineering for  Faurecia Interior Systems. “We are confident about the future of this technology as a substitute for petroleum-based plastic components; indeed, it is one of the main thrusts of our strategic initiative ‘bio-attitude.’”

“We are convinced that Faurecia’s commitment to sustainability is in line with Mitsubishi  Chemical’s “KAITEKI”  concept,” said Shigeru Handa, general manager of Mitsubishi Chemical’s Sustainable Resources Business Development Department. “We believe  our  strengths  in  biotechnology, polymer development, and patent position will contribute to this partnership with Faurecia.”

The  agreement  will  enable  three  market  leaders  to  pool  their  respective  strengths:  Faurecia, No.  1 worldwide in automotive interiors, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, one of the world’s largest chemical companies and BioAmber, a pioneer in the production of biobased succinic acid.