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A wooden eco-car with a green bio-based heart…and it's on the move.

Posted on Feb 15, 2018 6:00:00 PM

The Biofore Concept Car, now touring Europe.jpg"The vehicle runs on UPM’s wood-based renewable diesel, UPM BioVerno™ and weighs approximately 150kg less that equivalent vehicles."

With every new car that rolls off production lines across the world, so the need for sustainable vehicles that don’t harm the environment increases. It’s true that there has been a lot of progress in this area, with hybrid and battery technology enabling some wallet-friendly fuel efficiency figures, but as impressive as these vehicles may be they can’t claim 100% sustainability; hybrid cars still use fossil fuels and batteries have a large carbon footprint.

However, there is a concept car which is much closer to being completely sustainable that uses bio-based materials in much of its construction. UPM’s Biofore Concept Car has attracted plenty of interest and has been displayed over the winter and this spring at major bio-based events in Asia and Europe. But what is the concept all about? Providing the detail behind this extraordinary little car, Anneli Kunnas from UPM Biofuels speaks to Bio-Based World News.

UPM’s Biofore Concept Car is like the whole innovative forest industry packed into just one product on wheels. It is a resource-effective car demonstrating a totally new type of thinking, driving sustainable change and replacing oil-based materials with advanced, renewable biomaterials, explains Kunnas.

In the Biofore Concept Car the majority of parts traditionally made from plastics have been replaced with high quality, safe and durable biomaterials – such as UPM Formi™ biocomposites and UPM Grada™ thermoformable plywood material, which can significantly improve the overall environmental performance of car manufacturing. The vehicle runs on UPM’s wood-based renewable diesel, UPM BioVerno™ and UPM Raflatac’s sustainable self-adhesive labels have been used on the car’s interior design and spare parts. The Biofore Concept Car weighs approximately 150kg less than equivalent vehicles.

At 150kg lighter than their equivalent, the UPM Biofore car also has lower fuel consumption

The Biofore car is a joint production between UPM and the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. Students of industrial design and automotive and mechanical engineering from Metropolia University were responsible for designing and building the car from start to finish, requiring the participation of around 50 students for the four-year project. In addition to Metropolia and UPM’s involvement, several partner companies and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation also participated in the cooperation.

First public show in Geneva

The Biofore Concept Car was first introduced to the world at the Geneva International Motor Show in 2014. Among the giants of the automotive industry, the Biofore Concept car was in good company in Geneva. In addition to the new materials, industry leaders were interested in the car’s design and wood-based UPM BioVerno diesel.

The car combines the development paths of UPM’s new products, such as biocomposites and biofuels, which first linked UPM to the automotive industry. UPM’s new materials result from strong investment in R&D and the company’s expertise in utilising pulp. UPM’s materials function well in the car and they can introduce an ecological dimension into car manufacturing. If a component is manufactured from biocomposite instead of plastic, the carbon footprint can decrease by 60%, which is a remarkable achievement. New biocomposite materials are already in production and commercially available.

The Biofore Concept Car showcases UPM’s transformation into a leading operator of the forest-based bioindustry in a remarkable way and all in one package, It also shows the potential of UPM’s biomaterials, not only for the automotive industry but also for various end, including design and acoustics and a wide range of industrial and consumer applications.

The Biofore Concept Car

One of the pit stops for the UPM Biofore
Concept Car: the Argus Biofuels 2017 in
London, where Sari Mannonen (standing), 
head of UPM Biofuels, talked about
wood-based biofuels and innovation 
as fuel for transformation. In the driver’s
seat is UPM Biofuels' Anneli Kunnas.


Next stop: World Bio Markets, Amsterdam

In October 2017, the concept car swerved to London for two different events – first displayed at the FIPP (International Federation of Periodical Publishers) World Congress, one of the largest media event in the world, and Argus Biofuels and Feedstocks, a large networking event for the biofuels supply chain. After London, the next stop was Tokyo where the EcoPro International Exhibition on Environment and Energy took place in December. Now back in Europe, the car has returned and has been on show in Augsburg, Germany, in February.

In March, the wooden UPM Biofore Concept Car will visit World Bio Markets in Amsterdam for the first time. Taking place on 20th-22nd March, World Bio Markets is an international event that provides a comprehensive view of the latest updates on the bio-based supply chain and brings together expert speakers from across the value chain for three full days of networking and learning.

What the car's made of

Innovative materials used in the Biofore car and their applications:

UPM Grada
Thermoformable wood material, which enables durable, high quality, ecological and visually-appealing designs

• Passenger compartment floor
• Centre console 
• Display panel cover
• Door panels.

UPM Formi
Biocomposite made from cellulose fibre and plastics. Recyclable, clean and odourless, UPM Formi offers excellent dyeing possibilities and painting options:

• Front mask
• Side skirt
• Dashboard 
• Door panels
• Interior panels.

UPM Raflatac
Self-adhesive label materials. Manufactured by using the latest adhesive technology and solvent-free production process:

• Spare parts
• Interior and exterior design, such as in the engine bay.

UPM BioVerno

Wood-based renewable diesel. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to fossil fuels that also reduces tailpipe emissions significantly. Suitable for all diesel engines.

Anneli Kunnas is the senior manager, stakeholder relations and marketing at UPM Biofuels:

Click on the graphic for more information on how to attend World Bio Markets, the 13th annual show that this year has more than 100 speakers, three content streams and more than 25 sponsors and exhibitors.

Topics: Transport, BBWNBrands, Bio-Based, biofuels

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About the Author

Dave Songer