Thursday, October 22, 2009

Palm Fibers Used For Automotive

Palm fiber composites hand autos an environmental edge
Palm fiber has been extensively employed as a reinforcing material in polypropylene parcel trays by Malaysian automakers Proton and Perodua, and now the Japanese and Koreans are interested.

Speaking to MPW at the JEC Asia show in Singapore, PolyComposite (Selangor, Malaysia) General Manager Abdul Razak Rohany says the first confirmed usage of its Polymex natural fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites in a Japanese vehicle will be the Toyota Vios starting March 2010. The subcompact sedan is already assembled in Malaysia. Honda and Hyundai are also reportedly interested.

PolyComposite localized production of the natural fiber composite in 2004 and currently turns out around 24 tonnes of sheet per month for thermoforming by local auto part suppliers. “Palm fiber is a tough fiber, and it’s hard to pulverize, but it does result in better impact strength than wood-chip composites,” says Rohany. “Further, it does not require a coupling agent because of its good affinity to PP, and its cost is competitive.” Rohany sees door trim as an emerging application.

With up to 250 tonnes of monthly capacity, PolyComposite has more than sufficient means to serve the auto sector going forward. Sheet of 0.8-4-mm thickness can be extruded, and the fiber loading is 50%.