NEC will launch heat-conducting bioplastic in 2008

Apr. 9, 2007 — NEC Corp. says it has developed a corn-based bioplastic that conducts heat faster than stainless steel, and that it aims to mass-produce the material starting in April 2008 for use in mobile phones and other portable devices.

The Japanese conglomerate, whose products range from chips to defense systems, said the material could help make laptops and mobile phones thinner and lighter by eliminating the need for heat-releasing sheets or fans.

NEC aims to replace 10 percent of the plastic used in its products with bioplastic by 2010. It began using plastic made from fermented corn and kenaf fiber in its mobile phones in March last year.

“Cost is still a bottleneck, but we hope to continue lowering bioplastic costs and add value so that other makers will also follow suit,” Shuichi Tahara, general manager of NEC’s Nano Electronics Research Laboratories, told a news conference.

NEC’s new plastic is cheaper than other fiber-reinforced plastics as it requires less carbon fiber to conduct heat, but it is still more expensive than stainless steel, Tahara said.

To make its bioplastics, NEC processes polylactic acid bioplastic, mass-produced by Natureworks LLC, a Cargill Inc. unit, which it buys from Mitsui Chemicals Inc. and other suppliers.


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