CAR Research Paper

The Bio-Based Materials Automotive Value Chain

Authors: Kim Hill, Bernard Swiecki, and Joshua Cregger

Produced by: Center for Automotive Research, Sustainability & Economic Development Strategies Group
Date: April 2012
Categories: Emerging Industry Trends

Full Description:

Bio-based materials are industrial products made from renewable agricultural and forestry feedstocks, which can include wood, grasses, and crops, as well as wastes and residues. These materials may replace fabrics, adhesives, reinforcement fibers, polymers, and other, more conventional, materials. This paper focuses specifically on the adoption of bio-based materials in the manufacture of automotive components and the opportunities for growing the bio-based materials industry in the Great Lakes region.

This study includes an examination of the status of current bio-based materials technology and use within the automotive industry, emerging industry trends toward deployment of bio-based materials, leading organizations that are active in the automotive bio-based materials sector, and feedstock and resource base considerations associated with production of bio-based materials. Particular attention is paid to the adoption of bio-based plastics and foams. In order to gain deeper understanding into the commercialization process, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) has conducted three case studies. These examples of successful automaker bio-based product utilization provide a basis for understanding how a component that integrates bio-based materials is developed and how these materials move from farm to factory. Drawing on the literature review, case studies, and meetings with industry representatives, CAR has documented lessons learned and obstacles encountered and developed recommendations for increased commercialization and adoption of bio-based materials into automotive supply chains.


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