Increasing the amount of biomass in foams: biobased polyols for flexible polyurethane foams in automotive applications

BIOPOL4MOTIVE will support car manufacturers and their suppliers in making polyurethane (PU) foams used in car acoustic interiors more sustainable. The project will create two grades of PU systems specifically developed for manufacturing flexible PU foams with a substantial biobased content, without functional loss, and at attractive cost.

Sustainable PU foams
Due to their high performance at low weight and their competitive cost, PU foams are the material of choice for car acoustic interiors. Today, fossil-based methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and polyols are used to produce these PU foams. As car manufacturers and their suppliers strive towards increased sustainability and a reduced CO2 footprint, they are looking for ways to incorporate more sustainable materials into their PU foams.

One such sustainable material is biobased polyol. Currently, however, the chemical structure, inconsistent quality and cost of bio-polyol are curtailing its full potential. PU foams containing more than 10% bio-polyols, for example, exhibit an immediate loss of functionality. To overcome this challenge and increase the amount of bio-polyols in PU foams, innovative solutions are needed.

New bio-polyols
BIOPOL4MOTIVE offers these solutions by developing new bio-polyols and modified MDI, targeting use in automotive acoustic applications. In practice, the project aims to create two grades of PU systems developed for manufacturing flexible PU foams (i.e. high-resilience and visco-elastic) with a substantial biobased content. This will be achieved by developing the bio-polyol polymer and the MDI pre-polymer including the bio-polyol, delivering the required biobased content without functional loss and at attractive cost.

The project will lead to a significant increase of sustainable content in PU-based car acoustic interiors, while preserving the use and production of light-weight, cost-competitive PU foams in the automotive value chain.

Project Details
Project type: O&O
Approved on: 16/06/2021
Duration: 01/04/2021-31/12/2023
Total budget: €2.553.157
Subsidy: €1.276.579
Project Partners
To execute the project, a partnership covering the entire PU foam value chain was established: from a polyol producer (Oleon), over a PU raw material and formulated systems producer (Huntsman), to a supplier of sustainable lightweight components for acoustic and thermal management (Autoneum).
Questions about this project? Please contact catalyst Bert Boekaerts (

Flemish Bioeconomy Label
In the framework of the Flemish government’s policy plan for the bioeconomy, BIOPOL4MOTIVE was awarded the Bioeconomy Label by VLAIO.

Financed through the recovery plan ‘Vlaamse Veerkracht’, the policy plan for the bioeconomy seeks, amongst others, to stimulate spearhead clusters like Catalisti and support their collaborative innovation projects.

BIOPOL4MOTIVE is the first cluster project to be awarded the label, as it matches one or more of the focus themes identified by the policy plan, including the conversion of biomass and/or biological waste into useable materials and products.