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DENSO develops plant-derived plastic materials

Building on its ECO VISION 2025, DENSO has developed its own environmentally friendly manufacturing material.

DENSO is to begin using plant-derived plastic materials in some of its products in order to reduce its environmental footprint.

The bio-polycarbonate (PC) which will be used by DENSO is made from starch and urethane resin extracted from castor oil.

The decision is a result of research carried out by DENSO into plant-derived plastic materials which are based on plant molecular structures therefore reducing environmental impact.

Starch-derived bio-PCs have higher surface hardness, better optical characteristics, and superior hydrolytic stability than conventional petroleum-derived PCs. They also refract less light, exhibit better colour-forming properties, and do not need to be painted before being used.

DENSO’s starch-derived bio-PC, which provides high hardness, can be shaped into complex designs and is being used to make plastic bezels for Toyota’s car navigation systems.

Castor oil, a vegetable oil extracted from castor beans, is used as a material in paints, waxes, and other products. DENSO has developed a highly heat-resistant urethane resin based on the molecular structure of castor oil and used it as a protector for connectors in automotive exhaust gas sensors.

Automotive exhaust gas sensors, which measure the concentration of specific gases present in vehicle exhaust gases, must have high heat resistance. Therefore, the resins used in sensor control units have traditionally been expensive silicone-type resins.

DENSO’s newly developed urethane resin costs less than silicone resins and can withstand up to 150 °C, while significantly reducing the amount of gases produced when being melted and formed into shapes. This is the first such resin of its kind in the world.

Non-fossil plant-derived plastics are gaining increasing attention because they are inexhaustible resources and do not increase the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere when thermally recycled. Therefore, DENSO has been working on their development for some time.

Back in 2009, DENSO collaborated with DuPont to develop and commercialise a radiator tank made from a material extracted from castor oil. Since then, DENSO has been increasing the number of vehicle models that use the product.
In 2016, DENSO established DENSO ECO VISION 2025, an action plan to help to build a sustainable community and society toward 2050.

Moving forward, DENSO plans to continue to increase the number of products made from plant-derived plastics and will continue to develop them in its attempt increase sustainability whilst curbing global warming.