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BASF, Owens Corning, TenCate Partner on Thermoplastic Composites

Owens Corning, BASF and TenCate Advanced Composites have agreed to work together to develop thermoplastic composites for the mass production of automobiles in an effort to make vehicles lighter and more fuel efficient.

Under the strategic alliance, BASF will contribute its knowledge of producing and formulating thermoplastic resins, TenCate Advanced Composites will offer its expertise in composites manufacturing and Owens Corning will share its technology to develop tailor-made fabrics and glass reinforcement products.

Demand for lighter vehicles that maintain strength and durability has risen as global emissions standards have tightened, the partners said. Continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites, such as tapes and laminates used in thermoforming processes, have huge potential for structural parts, said Martin Jung, head of structural materials research at BASF.

Fiber reinforced plastic composites can be 30 to 50 percent lighter than metal parts, helping reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency in automobiles, the partners said.

Thermoplastic processing also reduces production cycle times and can be recycled.

Other automakers are working on ways to reduce the weight of vehicles in a bid to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Ford Motor Co. is aiming to cut the weight of new cars and trucks by up to 750 pounds by the end of the decade. The automaker is working with Dow Automotive Systems to research the use of advanced carbon fiber composites to reduce the weight of high-volume vehicles.

US aircraft giant Boeing and German automaker BMW Group formed a strategic partnership in December to research carbon fiber recycling and share information about carbon fiber materials and manufacturing.

Boeing and BMW are both using carbon fiber, which is lighter than aluminum and steel, in their products. The material, which can reduce the weight of a vehicle and lower emissions and fuel consumption, is difficult to recycle. That challenge has prevented widespread production of carbon fiber coats.

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