DETROIT — Denso Corp., in pursuit of a healthier planet, has turned to castor oil.
The world's second-largest supplier is using oil from the castor bean, mixed with petroleum, to make a bioplastic resin for a plastic radiator tank. Denso will start mass producing the new part this spring for vehicles sold worldwide. Denso developed the resin with DuPont K.K., of Japan.
Because the resin is derived from plants, which absorb carbon dioxide while growing, the radiator tank can reduce CO2 emissions over its life cycle by "more than 30 percent when compared with conventional tanks," Hiromi Tokuda, a Denso executive vice president, said last week at the Detroit auto show.
The plant-derived ingredient makes up about 40 percent of the new resin.
"Denso aims to incorporate the new resin into a wide range of products in an effort to reduce use of limited oil resources, reduce CO2 emissions during a product's life cycle and help prevent global warming," Akio Shikamura, managing officer responsible for Denso's Thermal Systems Business Group, said in a statement.
Radiator tanks need to be heat-resistant and durable. The new resin meets those requirements and also is seven times more resistant to the calcium chloride many cities use to melt snow and ice on roads, Denso said.
Factoring in that advantage, Denso said, the new part is no more expensive than standard radiator tanks.
In other product news, Denso said:
-- This year it will introduce an air-conditioning system for cars that uses Denso's ejector-cycle technology, first used on refrigerated trucks in 2003. The air conditioner can reduce its fuel consumption by 30 to 40 percent at maximum efficiency, depending on vehicle and climate conditions.
-- Denso plans to introduce its 200 Mega Pascal common-rail injectors for diesel engines on cars and commercial vehicles worldwide this year. The injectors were introduced on European cars last year.
Denso ranks No. 2 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with estimated worldwide auto parts sales of $35.70 billion in its 2007 fiscal year.