For most people, the most conspicuous type of emission from a car is usually found in the interior – the smell. The substances in the air can come from a wide variety of interior components. In the past, plastic parts, in particular, have often attracted attention due to an unpleasant odour. It is interesting to note that in Europe and America a ‘new car smell’ is predominantly rated as pleasant, whilst in Asia it is often perceived as disturbing. The use of new types of elastomers is intended to significantly reduce the load in the future.
Air quality is generally a major issue in the automotive industry, but in addition to CO2 and nitrogen emissions to the environment, indoor air quality is now also of great importance – ultimately for both manufacturers and customers. In some countries, such as China, Japan and Korea, legal standards have even been introduced in recent years that clearly regulate the maximum concentration of some pollutants in the interior. It is therefore very likely that such or similar standards will also be applied in Europe and America in the same way in the future.
Emission values are among the most important material properties for automotive interiors, as they also make a significant contribution to driving comfort. For this reason, components must not release any substances into the air over a long period of time that could attract attention through unpleasant odours or impair the health of the occupants, write Florian Dresel and Dr.-lng. Thomas Köppl of Hexpol TPE in Lichtenfels in an article for the magazine ‘Plastverarbeiter’.
Emission And Solution Approaches
High-quality thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) are actually perceived positively by people with four of the five classic senses and are therefore increasingly being used in automotive interiors. This makes it particularly clear how important it is to select the right solutions. Mixtures and raw materials must be chosen carefully and with great effort.
In addition to the technical properties of materials, great importance is now also attached to the origin and sustainability of the raw materials. For this reason, the production of plastics from fossil raw materials is increasingly criticized. As an environmentally friendly alternative, products are therefore being developed that contain large amounts of plant-based raw materials. Moreover, these renewable raw materials, such as sugar cane, often originate from certified sustainable cultivation (e.g. ISCC+) and thus contribute to reducing the CO2 footprint. Depending on the hardness of the material, even a bio-based content of up to 90 per cent is possible.