Since 2012, U.S. automakers have kept a keen eye toward a milestone date thirteen years down the road.
The U.S. Government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards mandated a more than doubling of vehicle fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025, representing a formidable challenge given technology available at that time. Yet in an industry where innovation is critical to success, OEMs and suppliers have made substantial strides toward meeting these requirements, in turn developing a wide array of technologies in production today.
The Environmental Protection Agencies’ recent Midterm Evaluation of the CAFE standards confirms that tomorrow’s vehicles will have to be more efficient and have a lower environmental impact than the vehicles of today. As the world’s leading chemical supplier to the automotive industry, BASF is a key partner in these efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from cars with combustion engines. The company’s solutions span a broad range of specialty areas including: catalysts, coatings, engineering plastics, polyurethane and specialty foams, lubricants, fuel additives, pigments, binders and battery materials. But what these solutions all have in common is the ability to help automakers achieve the 2025 standards.
BASF produces a number of products to assist in the reduction of CO2 for the automotive industry including:
- Catalysts: BASF develops and markets emission catalysts to help gasoline and diesel engines meet stricter exhaust standards. The four-way conversion catalyst combines the functionality of a three-way conversion catalyst with a gas particulate filter, removing four pollutants with a single component, saving weight and space, while increasing efficiency.
- Coatings: Pioneered more than 25 years ago, BASF’s waterborne basecoats replaces most of the organic solvents to permanently reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Additionally, the company developed an integrated paint process that decreases the length of the production line, reduces CO2 emissions by up to 20 percent, saves energy costs from 15-20 percent and reduces material consumption.
- Engineering plastics: Replacing metal parts with engineered plastic materials can reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel economy. New applications are constantly in development for today’s automobiles, which use about 15 percent various plastic materials. For example, reducing the weight of a car by 100 pounds cuts fuel consumption by about 1 percent. Additionally, engineering plastic solutions using BASF’s Ultramid® polyamides provide high performance under demanding conditions including intense heat, all with reduced weight.
- Polyurethane and specialty foams: BASF offers polyurethane solutions for use in virtually every part of the vehicle that maintain high strength and low weight. The company’s polyurethane is used in a honeycomb structure along with corrugated paper and fiberglass to create lightweight trunk load floors, package shelves and sunshades.
- Lubricants: Energy efficient lubricants from BASF help decrease fuel consumption by significantly reducing friction and wear in transmissions and axles, while exceeding the expectations of fill-for-life durability requirements.
- Fuel additives: BASF’s fuel additives enhance engine cleanliness, protect the fuel system and reduce the emission of harmful substances and greenhouse gases.
- Pigments: BASF produces pigments that reflect infrared light. Integrated in car paint, windows or interior surfaces, these pigments help to keep the car cool in the sun, reducing the energy required for climate control.
- Binders: An increasing number of car manufacturers use natural fiber composites for lightweight components such as door linings, storage compartments and other car interior parts. BASF’s Acrodur® binder lends adhesive and strengthening properties to various types of natural fiber, in addition to facilitating environmentally friendly solutions for car interiors. Natural fiber composites cured with Acrodur can reduce weight by up to 20 percent over natural fiber polypropylene and up to 40 percent over injection molded ABS plastic.
- Battery materials: In addition to improving cars with combustion engines, chemistry is also making a major contribution to the electrified vehicle market. BASF produces advanced battery materials for lithium-ion batteries, which play a key role in determining battery performance, energy density, service life and safety.
BASF is investing in new innovations to help automakers improve efficiency and meet the 2025 standards. By taking a holistic approach to creating solutions that address all aspects of a vehicle, the company offers solutions to OEMs no matter their strategies for achieving increased fuel economy.