Under the microscope: Renewable raw materials - High-tech parcel shelf

Feb 10, 2014
All in all 46 components in the new GLA-Class with a total weight of 21 kilograms are made using natural materials. The load compartment cover is partially made from recycled paper and is only half as heavy as a conventional component weighs. A multi-patented material composition and its manufacturing process furthermore reduce CO2 emissions during production by 60 per cent.
The load compartment cover of the GLA consists of eight layers, the core being formed by a honeycomb structure made from recycled paper. A new process developed by Mercedes-Benz simplifies its manufacture significantly: the eight layers of the composite material are joined, formed, laminated and cut to size in one step. This consolidation of the production steps into a single operation and the use of recycled paper in the honeycomb core reduce CO2 emissions during the manufacture of the components by 60 per cent compared with the old process.
At the same time, with a weight of 1.2 kilograms the load compartment cover of the GLA has only around half the weight of a conventional component. This extreme lightweight design lowers the CO2 emissions during the use of the vehicle. Over the entire lifecycle this results in CO2 savings of about 13 kilograms, as the company's experts determined in their analysis for the environmental certificate.
Mercedes-Benz has registered four patents in all for the innovative manufacturing process and the material composition. The invention has furthermore scooped the MATERIALICA AWARD "Best of CO2". This component project is also among the winners of the "Environmental Leadership Award“, with which Daimler honours outstanding environmental projects in the group every year.
At Mercedes-Benz the use of renewable raw materials is concentrated primarily on the vehicle interior. In addition to the parcel shelf with a honeycomb core made from recycled paper, established natural materials such as coconut or wood fibres, wool and natural rubber are also used in the series production of the GLA. There are many good reasons for using these natural substances: compared with glass fibres, the use of natural fibres usually results in reduced component weight. Renewable raw materials help to counter the depletion of fossil resources such as coal, natural gas and crude oil. They can be processed using established technologies. The products which are made from them are usually easy to recycle. If recycled in the form of energy they have an almost neutral CO2 balance, as only as much CO2 is released as the plant absorbed during its growth.