Sustainability Interview

Developing the materials of tomorrow with MATERI’ACT

Laurence Dufrancatel
Launched in late 2022 to accelerate the development of cutting-edge sustainable materials, MATERI’ACT has reached several major milestones in its first full year of operation. Laurence Dufrancatel, MATERI’ACT Engineering Director, gives the latest update on this FORVIA company.

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Just one year after the creation of MATERI’ACT, the company’s headquarters and R&D center were inaugurated in November 2023. How key is this step for FORVIA?

Materials are a key lever for decarbonizing the automotive industry. In 2011, with the NAFILean family, we were the first automotive supplier to bring to market a bio-composite meeting the stringent requirements of a car cockpit. With MATERI’ACT, we are scaling up and leveraging more than a decade of expertise to produce cutting-edge materials that are not only less carbon-intensive, but are also making vehicles lighter and more recyclable. Sustainability and our knowledge across the value chain, from processes to materials, are unique strengths that guide the way we design system architecture and parts. This is a profound transformation.

Can you tell us about MATERI’ACT’s ambition?

MATERI’ACT has three product lines – recycled and bio- based compounds, bio-based and recycled foils, and low-CO₂ carbon fibers for hydrogen tanks – and our target is to achieve sales of €2 billion by 2030.

In our world-class R&D center near Lyon, France, our teams leverage AI to develop materials faster, guaranteeing their stability and conformity, whatever the variability of the initial raw materials. Then, we test our formulations in our pilot production line and our laboratory. In a nutshell, we control the entire chain, from formulation to production, enabling us to be agile and fast. Today, MATERI’ACT brings together a team of close to 100. By 2025, this will grow to 400.

MATERI’ACT is working with a wider ecosystem. Can you tell us more?

Pooling complementary expertise is vital to meet complex challenges such as qualifying, securing and transforming plastic waste or hemp into high value-added materials. Collaboration is also key to develop breakthrough solutions, accelerate their time to market and improve their affordability. MATERI’ACT has forged strategic collaborations with the agricultural cooperative INTERVAL (an APM joint venture) to integrate hemp fibers into polymers; with VEOLIA, to incorporate recycled plastics into polymers; and with ANANAS ANAM, to develop a leather alternative repurposing waste pineapple fibers. Additionally, our R&D center hosts an incubator for start-ups. This environment facilitates collaboration with entrepreneurs, fostering creativity and the cross-fertilization of ideas. 

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