Mazda Motor Corp. and an industrial consortium are partnering with the Japanese government and the academic community to develop a new bioplastic made through a fermentation process using natural materials such as fermented starches and sugars derived from corn.

Not only is the new bioplastic carbon-neutral (with only 12 percent petroleum content and reduced energy requirements for manufacture) but it is stronger and more heat-resistant than other bioplastics, making it a viable candidate for a wider range of automotive applications.

The prototype bioplastic is made of 88 percent corn and 12 percent petroleum, and requires 30 percent less energy to produce than conventional petroleum-based polypropylene plastics. Its higher rigidity may make it a superior material to polypropylene plastics for mass production of injection molded parts, like the complex shape shown at right.

According to Mazda, the Hiroshima-based research effort has greatly benefited from the region's fermentation expertise, based on its rich tradition of sake brewing...

[Source: Mazda] Thanks for the tip, amp!