Insights from industry

Renewable Biomaterials for the Automotive Industry


In this interview, Juuso Konttinen, Vice President, Biochemicals, UPM, talks to AZoCleantech about renewable biomaterials for the automotive industry.

UPM are currently working on the Biofore Concept Car in preparation for its launch at the Geneva International Motor Show in 2014. What was the main inspiration behind the production of this car?

UPM wants to demonstrate that its new bio-based materials are suitable for the automotive industry. The goal is to create a car for the future which makes use of a wide variety of UPM products. We provide innovative products made of renewable materials to industries that are actively seeking these materials for products of the future. The Biofore Concept Car is an example of what UPM products can be used to create: forests are full of opportunities and we plan on seizing them all.

Biofore Concept Car in preparation for its launch at the Geneva International Motor Show in 2014.

Biofore Concept Car in preparation for its launch at the Geneva International Motor Show in 2014.

What renewable biomaterials have been used for the production of this car?

UPM's new products, such as UPM Formi biocomposite and UPM Grada formable wood material, will be used in several parts of the car. Some parts will still need to be made of metal and naturally the glass parts and tyres will be manufactured from traditional materials. However, the idea is to use as many renewable materials and parts as possible. Also, spare parts will be labelled using UPM Raflatac label materials. The car will be powered by renewable UPM BioVerno diesel fuel.

Which parts of the concept car is to be made from UPM’s bio-based materials and how will these materials improve overall environmental performance?

The car and its parts will be designed so that 95% of the car (parts) can be re-used in accordance with Directive 2000/53/EC (End of Life Vehicles). The UPM BioVerno fuel used in the car reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared with diesel from fossil fuels.

What do you expect to achieve from showcasing this concept car at the 84th Geneva International Motor Show, 6-16 March 2014?

UPM wants to demonstrate that its new bio-based materials are suitable for different kind of industries, also for the automotive industry. Renewable raw materials have a key role in creating a society that lives by the principles of sustainable development. Like many industries, the automotive industry is actively seeking sources of renewable raw materials for their products.

How is UPM working with the bio and forest industries to build a sustainable future?

As the front-runner of the new forest industry UPM leads the integration of bio and forest industries into a new, sustainable and innovation-driven future. We create value from renewable and recyclable materials that are based on wood fibre sourced from sustainably managed forests.

One of UPM’s most recent innovations is UPM Formi. How is this biocomposite material used in injection molding production?

UPM Formi is a new cellulose fibre reinforced plastic composite with high renewable material content. It is specially designed for injection moulding applications. Up to 50% of UPM Formi's raw material is renewable. Cellulose fibres significantly increase stiffness and strength of polypropylene.

UPM Formi granulates offer smooth and reliable processability. Due to the high quality of pulp raw material, UPM Formi granulates result in clean and odourless composite products. A specially selected mixture of virgin plastic completes the mouldability of granulates for a wide range of end products with precise details. In addition, UPM Formi offers unlimited dyeing possibilities and great paintability.

What industrial and consumer applications are suitable for UPM Formi?

UPM Formi opens a brand new world for sustainable composite products in a wide range of industrial and consumer applications, such as electronics, furniture, household products etc. UPM Formi complies with the requirements of food contact regulations and it is also suitable as a raw material for toys. For example, one of the most well-known speaker manufacturers in the world, Genelec, has chosen UPM's biocomposite as the material for their new high-end speaker model.

How does UPM plan on becoming a major player in high quality, advanced biofuels for transport?

UPM has started building the world’s first biorefinery producing advanced transportation biofuels from wood-based raw materials in Lappeenranta in summer 2012, and it will be ready in summer 2014. The main product of the UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery is renewable diesel with a production capacity of 100 000 ton/a (corresponds 120 million litres/a).

Starting advanced biofuels production from crude tall oil in Lappeenranta is the first step of our biofuels strategy. The second step is moving on to producing biofuels from solid biomass – we have not made any investment decision on the second biorefinery yet – we are considering several options.

Are you also planning on implementing any developments to your self-adhesive label materials?

UPM's Label business, UPM Raflatac, continues to expand its product offering and presence in rapidly growing markets, and to strengthen its position in specialty label stock products, particularly in developed markets. Focus is also on thinner, high performance components that result in less waste.

How do you see the biocomposite industry evolving over the next five years?

We see biocomposites as an interesting area that has a good opportunity of growing a business.

About Juuso Konttinen

Juuso Konttinen

Juuso Konttinen has a strong academic background with outstanding achievements including three M.Sc. degrees (Paper Technology, Business Strategy [1995-2000]; Economic, Leadership [1998-2002]; and International Business, Business Communications [2003-2008]), all undertaken at the University of Helsinki.

Juuso pursued his career in Marketing as a Marketing Specialist for UPM in 2000 and has since developed his role at UPM in Business Development, Sales Performance Management, and is currently the Vice President, Biochemicals, for the UPM Group. Juuso is also a Board Member for the VTT Forest & Energy Advisory Board, Helsinki.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

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