Chrysler speeds up green agenda

Posted: 18 June 2002

The first vehicle manufacturing plant to take advantage of new paint technology that reduces emissions by at least 25 per cent while improving the paint quality of the vehicles, has been opened by the Chysler Group in Newark, USA.

Chrysler worked with its supplier, DuPont, to set a new standard for clear coat paint used to provide the final protective layer for the Dodge Durangos built at the plant.

"By working smarter together with our supply partners we were able to reduce our emissions at the source - the paint - rather than adding costly equipment to control the emissions at the end of the stack," said Newark Assembly Plant Manager Jim Wolfe.

Paint shops present the greatest emissions challenge in car assembly plants, due to the amount of solvents that are mixed with the powder to create the clear coat. The "Super Solids" technology increases the amount of solids in the paint while reducing the amount of pollution-creating solvents. A technology breakthrough using molecular engineering research has allowed DuPont to reduce the molecular weight and particle-size of the solids content in paint so it sprays more like a liquid during the application process. In the past, increasing the solid content prevented the paint from spraying properly.

Earlier this year, the Chrysker group adopted new recycling technology which could potentially save the industry around $320 million a year.

As part of its CARE Car II programme, Chrysler aims to increase the recyclability and recovery of automobiles to about 95 per cent weight and increase the use of recycled materials in their production. (At present, recycling is generally limited to the 75 per cent by weight of the vehicle that is metallic. The remaining 25 per cent is currently disposed of in landfills).

Working with 26 production suppliers and Recovery Plastics International (RPI), Chrysler has retrofitted two Jeep® Grand Cherokees with 54 recycled plastic parts. It is also the first car manufacturer to use RPI's proprietary plastic flotation technology to recover recyclable plastic for use in new vehicle parts. The suppliers used current production molds and processes to produce the parts - at a lower cost than using virgin plastic. Chrysler Group estimates that the recycled plastic can save $10 to $20 per vehicle.

Waste from Chrysler's manufacturing facilities was used also to create parts on the vehicles. Polyester gloves, cloth wipes and powder paint residue were recycled and used in the production of components in the CARE cars.

"This project demonstrates that the industry can 'care' for the environment while protecting the bottom line,'' said Bernard Robertson, Senior Vice President of Engineering Technologies and Regulatory Affairs. "Automobiles are already one of the most recycled products on the planet, but this technology presents the first real world solution to recycle the remaining 25 per cent of a vehicle that still goes to a landfill."

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