Sumika joins Hexagon to enable 60% plastic carbon reduction in vehicles

  • Industry News
  • Jan 30,23
Sumika Polymer Compounds Europe collaborates with manufacturing intelligence division of Hexagon to digitize the performance of sustainable and recyclable automotive-grade polypropylene (PP) compounds.
Sumika joins Hexagon to enable 60% plastic carbon reduction in vehicles

The manufacturing intelligence division of a leading global IT company, Hexagon partnered with Sumika Polymer Compounds Europe (SPC Europe), a leading manufacturer of thermoplastic compounds, to digitise the performance of new sustainable automotive-grade polypropylene (PP) compounds. The partnership will enable engineers to design components that are more recyclable and offer a lower carbon footprint for future vehicles. The announcement was made on January 25, 2023.

ADEME, a French ecological transition agency conducted a study in 2018 which reveals that PP components have greater recyclability than polyamides (PA). 70 per cent of recycled PP components are utilised in waste-to-energy initiatives or finish-up in the landfill. Sumika aims to deliver recycled PP compounds which are designed for the circular economy and contributes to plastic waste reduction at vehicle end-of-life.

The materials short glass-fibre polypropylene (GF-PP), Thermofil, and recycled polypropylene (GF-rPP), Thermofil Circle are manufactured sustainably with a recycling process by Sumika Polymer Compounds. The materials offer carmakers performance equivalent to incumbent engineering plastics, but with up to 60% lower carbon footprint. “Our Thermofil short glass-fibre reinforced polypropylene compounds offer equivalent performance to traditional engineering plastics while providing a much lower carbon footprint, which makes them highly suitable to meet design challenges that sustainable e-mobility brings,” said Bruno Pendélio, Marketing Manager, SPC Europe.

With the automobile industry shifting to e-mobility, the demand for light weighted vehicles has increased. Plastic has become a replacement for metal in cars and can contribute up to 20 per cent of its total weight. Developers try to maximise the energy efficiency of vehicles and mitigate the considerable weight of battery packs, but their environmental performance throughout the lifecycle is an important issue to consider.

“With aggressive sustainability targets and an increased focus on recycled materials, there is growing demand from Indian automotive companies and OEMs for sustainable materials. However, adoption has been slow because getting an accurate understanding of the characteristics of recycled materials is often a difficult proposition. Our partnership with Sumika will help address this challenge to a large extent and boost the adoption of sustainable materials in India,” said Sridhar Dharmarajan, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Hexagon India.

“Limited material behaviour data is a barrier to sustainable e-mobility innovations because automotive engineering teams have not been able to put new materials through the rigorous virtual durability and safety tests required for automotive endorsement,” told Guillaume Boisot, Head of the Materials Centre of Excellence, Hexagon.

Hexagon conducted a detailed and rigorous testing and physical validation programme with SPC Europe to produce highly accurate multi-scale behavioural models of its Thermofil grades and Thermofil Circle portfolio of recycled PP grades. Each material grade has a model that simulates the materials’ mechanical and environmental performance throughout a component’s lifecycle. The encrypted proprietary material models can be accessed by SPC Europe customers through Hexagon’s Digimat software, an interoperable computer-aided engineering (CAE) software tools. “Our unique multiscale material modelling technology accelerates the adoption of SPC Europe’s ground-breaking recycled materials by making it possible for product development teams to accurately simulate a component and subject it to established automotive engineering test and validation,” told Boisot.

This vital engineering data is the result of a long-term partnership between the two companies, providing product development teams with the ability to evaluate the suitability of GF-PP compounds in new designs to address carbon-neutral targets by replacing traditional engineering plastics.

“Combining our efforts with Hexagon allows us to support the race towards carbon neutrality by further light-weighting our customers’ automotive components, reducing physical material testing and prototyping,” said Pendélio.

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