Bioplastics: Toyota Aiming to Make Cars Out of Seaweed
Toyota is planning to make a car out of seaweed. Based on their existing 1/X plug-in hybrid concept (seen above), the future vehicle will be an ultralight, very efficient plug-in hybrid. A bioplastic (theoretically made out of abundant seaweed) would replace the existing carbon-fiber material currently in use for the body of the car. Unfortunately, this kind of green fantasy is about fifteen years away from being a reality.
A kelp car is not as far-fetched as it might sound. Bioplastics are being used for everything from gift cards to cellphone cases. Demand for the stuff is expected to hit 50 billion pounds annually within five years, a figure that would account for 10 percent of the world market for plastic, according to USA Today. A company called NatureWorks claims the production of its bioplastic Inego produces 60 percent less carbon dioxide than petroleum-based plastic and requires 30 percent less energy. And Oakridge National Laboratory has explored the possibility of producing carbon fiber from wood pulp.