Innovative Total Concept Car
Bio-TP Seal® Technology by Total Petrochemicals
by Eric Maziers, Total Petrochemicals, Feluy, Belgium & Mark Kearns PPRC, Queens University, Belfast
Total Petrochemicals recently introduced a fully developed, pioneering new concept car at the IAA (International Automobil-Ausstellung) Motor Show, Frankfurt, September 2011. The biennial IAA Frankfurt Motor Show is the largest gathering of automotive companies in the world comprising car producers, designers, engineers and equipment suppliers.
The Total Group (Hutchinson, Atotech, bostik and Total Petrochemicals) has been associated for a long time with the global automotive industry and is recognised as experts in the field of materials, adhesives, seals, metal coating, etc.
The Total concept car was conceived, developed and presented to introduce an innovative and sustainable polymer material technology called bio-TP Seal®, specifically designed and dedicated to the manufacture of rotomoulded construction-type applications.
Total Petrochemicals is a global supplier of polyolefins / polystyrene and recently introduced into their portfolio a completely new bio-based polymer (Polylactic Acid – PLA). The development of the PLA is done through Futerro – a joint venture between Total Petrochemicals and Galactic (Lactic Acid producer). one of the initial goals of the joint venture was the construction of a demonstration unit to produce annually 1,500 tonnes of PLA, using clean, innovative and competitive technology, developed and perfected by the Futerro partners (www.futerro.com ). This has now been completed.
One of the innovative contributions within the Total concept car is the combination of polyolefins and PLA into the rotomoulded car body. Particularly as PLA is a plastic from renewable resources / Biomass. Biomass is an alternative source of carbon other than fossilised resources like oil, gas and coal. The use of biomass to manufacture plastics helps reduce dependence on oil and provides access to the domain of green chemistry.
The concept car was developed and fully built by Total to demonstrate the innovative automotive development capabilities of the Total Group. Total will not actually produce ‘production cars’ but the concept car is a useful demonstrator of a pioneering technology for the industry.
The motivation behind this project was driven by city ‘mobility’ issues where conventional cars are less adapted to the modern cities of the 21st century. An increasing trend within the automotive industry is the shift to effortless, design conscious, small, light-weight, robust ‘city’ cars. The tradition ‘steel chassis’ automotive production methods employed around the world today is not suited to this development of light-weight ‘city cars’.
The combination of rotomoulding and bio-TP Seal® technology brings innovative car body production methods to the automotive industry. This allows:
• The construction of light weight cars
• A reduction in the number of overall parts
• A reduction in the use of families of different polymer materials
• More possibilities for recycling
• Much more design possibilities than a traditional car
• A painted or colour compounded material
• Allows OEM’s a new sustainable approach
The Total concept car development was based around the unique possibilities offered by rotomoulding technology and bio-TP Seal®.
“The rotomoulded part optimised with the assistance of Queens University, Belfast is produced with a unique three layers sandwich structure made of a combination of polyolefins and PLA.”
Figure 3 shows the main rotomoulded chassis, illustrating the ‘one-piece’ concept of the car with which the other elements (e.g. batteries, doors, wheels, etc.) will be built around. The design of the car itself is based around a two seat, three wheel construction, a trend prevalent with a large number of ‘city mobility’ automotive manufacturers during the IAA Trade Show.
The rotomoulded part optimised with the assistance of Queens University, belfast is produced with a unique three layers sandwich structure made of a combination of polyolefins and PLA. The foam layer can be tailored to thicknesses ranging from 10mm to 100mm.
As shown in Figure 4, tomography analysis was used to analyse the foam constructions, hence allowing optimisation of the foam structural properties.
The unique sandwich structure construction enables the optimised balance and combination of light-weight and mechanical properties. The overall weight of the rotomoulded parts are only 85kg whereas in a metal chassis construction this weight would be around 300kg. Specific tests were also developed to determine the mechanical strength of the rotomoulded parts. Figure 5 illustrates a cyclic load test using 2000kg of concrete. The load was applied five times at low speed and very little deformation was observed. no fractures were detected.
This technology also enables the part to be painted. bio-TP Seal® technology can be used for many other types of applications e.g. design and structural parts.
The Total concept car will be on display inside Total Petrochemicals research, Feluy, belgium and will be on show at the Armo 2012 Lyon Conference.
For further details feel free to contact: Eric Maziers, Total Petrochemicals, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Total Petrochemicals will be Sponsor of Armo2012 (www.armo2012.com).
Eric Maziers is Technical Manager for rotomoulding application for polyolefin business inside Total Petrochemicals. He has obtained his degree of Chemical Engineer in the high Engineering School of Liège Belgium. Maziers has been heading R&D projects for polyolefin developments for more than 20 years. During the last year he has been focused on metallocene-based polyethylene development for rotomoulding application. Maziers also participated as guest speaker in different “Hands-On” Advanced seminar in rotational moulding application and has published more than thirty papers for international conferences and journals.
Mark Kearns is the Rotational Moulding Research Manager of the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen’s University of Belfast. He is a Chartered Chemical Engineer with a M. Phil Degree in Rotational Moulding. Mark manages rotational moulding research and development projects for companies across Europe, Australasia, and North America.