Automakers want to reduce that characteristic odor new car buyers may love. And one way of achieving this is employing grades of resin that emit less volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Resin suppliers are developing such grades of polyacetal (POM) resin that feature such low emissions. For example Asahi Kasei Plastics (Tokyo) offers POM grades with VOC emissions of 2, 5 and 10 ppm, depending on the requirements of the automaker. Nowadays, Japanese automakers have some of the strictest requirements among global automakers for VOC emission standards.
Global polyacetal suppliers are also developing such low VOC emission grades to differentiate themselves from emerging Chinese suppliers of POM. Typically coal companies, these suppliers are employing coal seam gas (methane) as a feedstock and entering the business with large plants. Blue Star, for example, expanded capacity from 40,000 tonnes/yr to 60,000 tonnes/yr in 2o12, while Tianye Chemical, Shenhua Ningmei, Tianjin Bohua, and Yancon Lunan have all started up new world-scale plants since 2011 and the industry is mired in overcapacity. These Chinese suppliers, however, generally target commodity applications such as fasteners and lack the capability to supplier low-VOC grades.