Edited by Jean M. Hoffman
The carmaker says it has developed the world’s first fabric made from plant fibers that’s suitable for use in vehicle interiors.
The biofabric is made of polylactic acid a plastic created by combining large numbers of lactic-acid molecules that are made from fermented carbohydrates such as plant sugars. Mazda developed the biofabric in collaboration with Teijin Ltd. and Teijin Fibers Ltd.
Mazda will use the biofabric for seat covers and door trim in the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid. The concept vehicle will be featured at the Clean Energy Vehicle Test Ride event during this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. It features a hybrid power unit that combines a dual-fuel, hydrogen/ gasoline rotary engine with an electric motor.
The hybrid’s roomy interior also features an instrument panel and other interior fittings made from a bioplastic Mazda developed in 2006. The bioplastic is made from 88% corn and 12% petroleum. It reportedly has three times the shock impact resistance along with 25% better heat resistance compared to competitive bioplastics used in electrical appliances. And compared to the process used to make polypropylene, the fermentation process used to make the bioplastic uses 30% less energy. All of Mazda’s biomaterials fall under the Mazda Biotechmaterial brand name.
The seat-cover biofabric reportedly has the same performance and durability as competitive fabrics based on petroleum. The biofabric resists abrasions and damage from sunlight and is flame retardant. Mazda also says it is researching biomaterials that are not derived from food crops.