July 25, 2005

British scientists produce stronger plastic auto parts

Birmingham, England – British scientists working under the Foresight Vehicle program have perfected a method for producing self-reinforced polypropylene (SrPP) auto parts. SrPP is up to six times stronger than conventional polypropylene.

The method could mean a large number of lightweight car, truck and van parts that can be made more simply and cheaply than with conventional materials. The products made by the new technique can also be recycled quickly, easily and cheaply.

Polypropylene normally needs to be reinforced with glass fibre, carbon fibre or natural materials such as hemp or flax to make it strong enough for automobile applications. However, these make recycling a complicated and expensive operation.

SrPP takes normal polypropylene and subjects it to heating and weaving treatments, which stretch and align the molecules to make the product much stronger with no weight gain. The scientists have already produced SrPP trial parts for the Lotus Elite, which are 57 per cent lighter than conventional parts.

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