Aside from metals such as iron, steel and aluminum, perhaps the most common material in cars is plastic. Most of the plastic made today is derived from petroleum. Besides the raw materials used, a lot pf greenhouse gases are produced in the processing of plastics. Bio-materials have been a major research area in recent years including Ford's new soy-foam seats. Researchers from the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute have a developed a class of bioplastics called Polyhydroxyalkanoates that can be produced as a byproduct of cellulosic ethanol production. According to the research, PHA can be produced with only 0.49 kg CO2/kg of resin. Typical plastics production emits 2-3 kg of CO2/kg of resin. The energy required in the process is also reduced from 78-88 MJ to only 44 MJ per kg of resin. With the coming of cellulosic ethanol production in the next few years, this could be a potentially huge boon to making the businesses more viable.

[Source: Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, via Green Car Congress]

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