BMW, BASF Partner for ‘Poop-Based’ Paint

FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2022

German automobile and motorcycle manufacturer BMW is teaming up with global chemical company BASF to create a new sustainable paint made from sewage. But the product isn’t “crappy”—the companies are working to replace petroleum-based components in the process with raw materials from organic waste, such as biowaste.

“By reducing our use of fossil raw materials, we can conserve natural resources and lower carbon emissions at the same time,” said Joachim Post, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network.

“To achieve this, we are increasingly relying on sustainability innovations in our supplier network. Innovative paints based on renewable raw materials are an important step in this direction.”

According to BMW's release, BASF’s production process allows makes it possible to replace petroleum-based precursors, such as naphtha, with renewable raw materials from organic waste, starting in the early stages of paint production. This reduces consumption of fossil fuel resources, but also avoids the CO2 emissions associated with the production, transport and processing of crude oil.

BMW reports that the corrosion protection and matt paints used at BMW Group Plants Leipzig and Rosslyn are chemically identical to the paints previously used, with all the same properties as conventionally manufactured body coatings. 

The biomass balance approach uses renewable raw materials like bio-based naptha and biomethane from organic waste. BASF reports that the proportion of bio-based raw materials is then arithmetically assigned to certain sales products according to a certified method, with the attribution model comparable with the principle of green electricity.

The sustainable manufacturing process reduces the CO2 emissions from paint production by more than 40%. Overall, BMW anticipates saving over 15,000 tons of CO2 emissions between now and 2030.

An independent certification reportedly confirms that BASF has replaced the quantities of fossil resources required for the biomass-balanced product sold with renewable raw materials.

“As the largest provider of chemical products to the automotive industry, we are aware of our responsibility to support our customers with innovative, eco-efficient solutions. The biomass balance approach allows us to make our coatings solutions even more sustainable while retaining the same quality,” said Markus Kamieth, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE.

BMW produces an average of around 250,000 vehicles every year at its plants in Leipzig, Germany, and Rosslyn, South Africa.

However, BMW has not announced what shades are available for the new sewage-based paint. Some news outlets have joked that one could “probably venture a guess at what color most of us think it should be.”

BMW Color-Changing Car

At the beginning of the year, BMW recently revealed a first-of-its kind car that changes color using technology found in eReaders. The BMW iX Flow premiered at CES 2022 in Las Vegas in January.

Drivers can change the vehicle’s color using a phone app, switching between shades or changing the design, such as racing stripes. BMW research engineer Stella Clarke said, in the future, changes could also be controlled by a button on the car’s dashboard or even by hand gestures.

While currently the vehicle can switch between black and white, BMW plans to expand the technology to cover many colors. The electrophoretic coloring is based on a technology developed by E Ink that is also used in eReaders, described as a kind of “digital paper.” Millions of microcapsules are contained inside the coating laminate, each the diameter equivalent to the thickness of a human hair.

The microcapsules contain negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. An electric field then causes the white or black pigments to collect at the surface of the microcapsule when a setting is chosen, changing the color of the car to white or black. This creates an Electronic Paper Display, or EPD.

Many triangular, fitted ePaper segments are applied to the vehicle body and tire rims, with generative design processes implemented to ensure the segments reflect the contours of the vehicle and resulting variations in light and shadow. The algorithms also enable the formability and flexibility to tailor the ePaper to the design lines of the car.

Each segment is created using high precision laser cutting technology before being applied to the vehicle. Once connected the electrical field power supply, the body is warmed and sealed to guarantee uniform color reproduction.

The E Ink technology is reportedly energy efficient, requiring no energy to keep the chosen color state, unlike displays or projectors. Current only flows when the colors are changing. According to BMW, changing the vehicles appearance with E Ink offers options for driver’s aesthetic preferences, environmental conditions or functional requirements.

Being able to switch from black to white also benefits the interior and efficiency of the vehicle. While lighter surfaces reflect more sunlight, darker surfaces can help absorb heat to keep the car warm. Drivers would be able to shift between white or black in different weather, cutting the amount of cooling and heating required from the air conditioning.

This reduces the amount of energy on the vehicle’s electrical system, lowers the amount of fuel or energy consumption and increase the range in electric vehicles, like preventing the dashboard from overheating.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Automotive coatings; BASF; Bio-based materials; Carbon footprint; Coating Materials; Coatings; Coatings technology; Coatings Technology; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Emissions; Environmental Controls; Green coatings; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Sustainability; Z-Continents

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