Don't Burn It, Use It To Make Cars

Auto makers are test-driving a byproduct from paper-making for use in cars. Rockwell International Corp.'s automotive unit will try out a material made from lignin--a gooey substance that makes up about 25% of most woods--as a substitute for some of the resins used in producing plastic car parts. Currently, an estimated 16 million tons of lignin are incinerated annually in the U.S.

Using a patented process, Lenox Resources Ltd. in Port Huron, Mich., separates lignin from a black liquid waste that paper plants generate. Adding special chemicals turns the lignin into a resin that may one day replace more expensive and toxic ones such as epoxy, phenolic, and urethane resins. Lenox and Rockwell recently signed an agreement for Lenox to provide chemical expertise and materials that Rockwell will use to develop plastic materials and components for the automotive market.