- Environmental Activities
- Initiatives in Development and Design to Reduce Environmental Impact
Initiatives in Development and Design to Reduce Environmental Impact
In the development and design of products, the Toyota Boshoku group undertakes the challenge of achieving zero CO2 emissions, the challenge of minimising natural resources usage and the challenge of minimising wastes.
The Toyota Boshoku group has been developing and designing environmentally friendly products with priority items set as the reduction in CO2 emissions, utilisation of plant-derived materials and reduction of the use of substances with environmental impact.
In order to achieve the 2050 Environmental Vision, we have been providing new value to society through development and design that reduces environmental impact since fiscal 2017.
Develop Products Using Plant-derived Materials
Kenaf is an annual grass that grows quickly and has high CO2 absorption capabilities. The Toyota Boshoku group turned its attention to kenaf early on and has been working to develop products using kenaf since the latter part of the 1990s. Kenaf fibres were first used in the base material for door trim for the Celsior in 2000, and its application has since been expanded to more vehicle models with the development of such products as tyre covers, cushion pads, luggage surface material and package trays.
Realised lighter weight of kenaf base material
The use of kenaf fibres leads to exceptional environmental performance in products in terms of CO2 absorption capability at the kenaf growth stage, enabling the switch from oil-derived material to plant-derived material and realising lighter weight. As an example, door trim base material used in the LEXUS GS in 2012 achieves around a 30-40% reduction in weight compared with 100% oil-derived base material (polypropylene).
In addition, adding in microcapsules (as shown in the diagram below) to the conventional kenaf base material led to a light weight that is world class and the development of high rigidity natural fibre base material. Moving forward, we will expand the application of kenaf and accelerate reduction in fossil fuel consumption such as oil.
Contributing to a new resource recycling system with kenaf base material
The application of kenaf base material is now expanding into the construction industry. Misawa Homes Co., Ltd., a major housing manufacturer with an interest in our kenaf base material, and Toyota Boshoku have been researching the possibility of using kenaf base material for exteriors made by Misawa Homes that are 100% recyclable.
The production of exteriors with finely cracked kenaf base material as their raw material started in earnest in 2016 with a product that satisfies the company’s performance criteria in terms of quality, including bending strength and linear expansion coefficient. This is contributing to the creation of a new resource recycling system.
Development of Plastic Components that Contribute to Weight Reduction
Toyota Boshoku believes that the development of plastic with strength that exceeds conventional wisdom is indispensable to realise even lighter weight in automotive components. In 2013, we developed a plastic boasting world-class impact resistance through our unique salami structure together with Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc. In 2017, we concluded a business alliance with Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. aimed at application in diverse fields beyond automotive components.
Development of lightweight moulded foam door trim with high impact resistance
In 2016, Toyota Boshoku developed world-class lightweight moulded foam door trim with exceptional impact resistance that is lightweight and rigid with the aim of enabling the practical application of high impact-resistant plastic. In addition to realising a 30% reduction in weight compared with door trim made with conventional injection moulding, the use of high impact-resistant plastic as an impact modifier ensures gentle cushioning from intense impact from the outside. Going forward, we will work to expand application to various interior automotive components and contribute to lighter weight and greater safety in vehicles.
Development of plastic engine components that contribute to lighter weight
Toyota Boshoku is working on the development of plastic products to reduce engine weight and thereby contribute to increased fuel efficiency in automobiles. We shifted from aluminium to glass fibre reinforced polyamide with exceptional heat resistance and strength in the intake manifold*2 built into the Toyota Corolla in 2000, thereby significantly reducing weight. This product has been widely used by automakers since. As an example, the Tumble Generation Valve (TGV)*3 was integrated into the resin intake manifold for horizontally opposed engines adopted in 2014, resulting in around a 40% reduction in weight compared with conventional aluminium.
- *2 Part that supplies air to the engine interior
- *3 Functional part that produces a swirling current in air sent to the engine to promote combustion of the air-fuel mixture
Expanded application of plastic cylinder head covers
With regard to cylinder head covers*4 for the engine, we are pushing ahead with the shift from aluminium to glass fibre reinforced polyamide possessing excellent workability, strength, heat resistance, oil resistance and durability. At the same time, the application of plastic cylinder head covers with an Oil Control Valve (OCV) to regulate the Variable Valve Timing (VVT) system was deemed difficult from the perspective of ensuring oil-tight capability due to the difference in thermal expansion between the OCV and plastic. To combat this, we used a separate aluminium housing (OCVholder) where the OCV is fitted with the head cover by way of insert moulding. The housing was used with the OCV for the first time in the world in 2008 with the Toyota Yaris, achieving a 40% reduction in weight compared with aluminium. Since then, we have worked to expand application to other models for lighter weight and to contribute to the reduction of CO2 throughout the life cycle.
- *4 Cover that prevents engine oil from leaking
Reduce CO2 emissions in the life cycle of Toyota Boshoku products by reducing weights
Toyota Boshoku ascertains CO2 emissions in the life cycle of core products, from their manufacture and sale to utilisation and disposal, and then takes action to reduce these emissions as a means to promote more environmentally friendly products.
Product life cycle
As part of these efforts, we are working hard to reduce the weight and size of products since CO2 during the utilisation period accounts for the majority of total emissions, and these initiatives are contributing to an increase in fuel efficiency and a reduction in CO2 emissions in automobiles.