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In what could be called a case of carma, the Chinese plastic supplier that forced Aston Martin to recall about 75 percent of its production since 2007 now says that it has lost about most of its customers and is facing financial ruin. Shenzhen Kexiang Mould Tool Co. produced the accelerator pedal arms for most Aston Martin models out of a counterfeit plastic and may have to close its factory due to the scandal.

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Ford and the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company are researching the use of coir (coconut fiber) as a reinforcement for the automaker's molded plastic components. The coconut coir (or husks, as they are more commonly called) currently make up a waste stream from Scotts' soil and seed division.

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Made from plastic waste, the Frii Bicycle is Dror Peleg's dreamy solution to urban transportation. As Peleg explains, "components would be injection molded into modular shapes that snap together to form a strong, lightweight and very colorful single-speed bike for quick trips through the city streets."

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A researcher with the University of Alberta may have found a way to keep cattle waste products out of landfills. David Bressler, an associate professor with the institution's Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science began working to find uses for beef parts contaminated with mad cow disease after the Canadian beef industry was struck with the illness in 2003.

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Houston-based Greenstar Recycling has teamed up with Cleveland-based Vadxx Energy to convert recovered (a.k.a. recycled) plastic into synthetic crude oil. Under terms of this joint venture, Greenstar and Vadxx will work hand-in-hand to provide a domestically manufactured fuel made entirely from discarded plastics. Using a proprietary process, Vadxx manufactures synthetic crude oil and natural gas by using a feedstock that consists of petroleum-based plastics in a process called thermal depolymer

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Engineers at Ford have taken inspiration from Nestle's Aero chocolate bar to produce lightweight MuCell (aka microcellular plastic foam) plastic parts by injecting them with gas bubbles during the manufacturing process. The injection of gas creates a honeycomb structure with a cross-section that closely resembles that of the tasty sweet and, more important, the bubbles mean that less plastic is required. Ford says that the MuCell plastic – thanks to its reduced weight – improves fuel

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There's been plenty of talk about carmakers moving to lighter materials like carbon fiber to reduce weight, improve fuel economy and enhance the driving experience. Two years ago, Honda and Nissan formed a consortium to research the mass-market implementation of carbon fiber. Last year, BMW launched its own joint venture to do the same. Lamborghini joined the party when it opened its own CF research center earlier this year. In practice, though, use of composites for large panels is still limite

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There's been plenty of talk about carmakers moving to lighter materials like carbon fiber to reduce weight, improve fuel economy and enhance the driving experience. Two years ago, Honda and Nissan formed a consortium to research the mass-market implementation of carbon fiber. Last year, BMW launched its own joint venture to do the same. Lamborghini joined the party when it opened its own CF research center earlier this year. In practice, though, use of composites for large panels is still limite

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Automakers and consumers alike all want lighter cars. "Adding lightness" has a lot of desirable effects, most notably in overall fuel efficiency and performance. While numerous efforts have been made to reduce the weight of automobiles – including downsizing, subtracting unnecessary components and using lightweight alloys and carbon fiber for structural bits – one item that's awfully hard to lighten without dire consequences is the engine.

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Click above for a high-res image of the new Mazda2

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Plastics make things possible, or so say the major plastic manufacturing companies in their ads. It turns out that there's some truth to the tagline, as automakers are increasing the amount of plastic parts in vehicles in an attempt to reduce weight and emissions. While many consider steel to be the most desirable material to pound out automobiles, the use of plastic is outgunning metals pound for pound on new cars. Even luxury brands like BMW and Porsche are using more plastics in their vehicle

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a 1941 Ford with organic plastic body panels

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Click on the image for a gallery of high-res images of Hyundai's recyclable QarmaQ concept.

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Here at Autoblog we are flat-out fascinated by concept cars, the wilder the better. The design shown above is one of the award winners in the Royal College of Art's recent "PLASTicon" project, sponsored by GE Plastics (the creators of lexan and other wonder materials).

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