Honda develops plant-based fabric

Posted: 5 September 2006

Honda Motor Co. has succeeded in developing bio-fabric, a plant-based fabric with excellent durability and resistance to sunlight, for use as a surface material in automobile interiors.

The newly developed bio-fabric will enable Honda to reduce energy consumption during the production process by 10 to 15 percent compared to that of petroleum-based polyester materials, reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per automobile by 5 kilograms.

Bio-fabric offsets CO2 emissions produced during incineration in the disposal stage as plants, the raw material of the fabric, absorb CO2 during their growth. Despite this benefit, plant-based fabric has not been used commercially for automobile interiors due to concerns about limited durability and aesthetic issues.

The newly developed bio-fabric overcomes such issues, as it is a soft and smooth material appropriate for the surface of automobile interiors, with high durability and excellent resistance to color fading from prolonged sunlight exposure. A polyester material called PPT (polypropylene terephthalate) is the basic component of the bio-fabric. PPT is produced through polymerization of 1-3PDO (propanediol), which is produced from corn, and petroleum-based terephthalic acid.

In addition to seat surfaces, this bio-fabric can be used as a cover material for doors and rooves, as well as for floor mats. Honda will install these bio-fabric interiors in the company's new fuel cell vehicles, which will be marketed in the next three years.

Source: INS/Japan for Sustainability