A research group in Poland, Selena has begun the Biomotive project which looks at weeds as a potential source of eco-friendly plastics in a bid to help lower carbon emissions according to a recent article on the BBC news website. The project has been awarded £13.5m from the EU.
We are aware that driving fossil fuel cars is bad for the environment but often less is heard about what can be done to reduce the CO2 emissions of vehicles before hitting the road.
Depending on the model of vehicle, the carbon footprint of making a new car varies considerably. ‘Some have calculated that as much carbon is emitted to manufacture a car as is emitted by driving it across its lifetime.’
Car dashboards and other interior components could soon be made from bioplastics, explains Wojciech Komala, research and development director.
“We lower the carbon footprint by using bio-based sources,” he says. “And by trying to develop lighter components for the cars.”
Plant chemicals are used to synthesise polymers in the lab – a natural process harnessed for industrial use. The bioplastics that result can be heated and injected into a mould or 3D printed like any conventional plastic.
Although an expensive option at this time, it is theoretically greener than using oil because plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The Biomotive project will explore if Selena’s bioplastics process can be made commercially viable for the car industry. Mr Komala says his team hopes to construct a small production factory next year.