Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) has introduced new sustainable seating solutions. These new seating include seat foam pads made from natural, locally abundant, renewable resources, and also the synergy seat, a lightweight seat solution. This new seat system is for both standard and hybrid vehicles. It is nearly 100% recyclable, requires less foam than conventional seats, and offers a high level of occupant comfort. The Synergy Seat leverages the new, lightweight MS seat structure.

Throughout its 124-year history, Johnson Controls has been a ‘green’ company, and in recent years, we have developed numerous ‘eco-friendly’ materials, product solutions and technologies, said Byron Foster, group vice president, Global product centers for the automotive experience business of Johnson Controls. Our expertise and global presence enable us to be proactive in developing advanced, earth-friendly solutions, such as using region- specific, natural-oil polyols for making seating foam that meets our customers’ performance goals.

JCI is showcasing its sustainable seating solutions at the company’s 2009 North American International Auto Show exhibit in Detroit. They’re among the products, technologies and concepts featured in the company’s exhibit in room D2-15 of Detroit’s Cobo Center.

Engineers at JCI have succeeded in replacing a portion of the petroleum-based polyurethane used in conventional foam padding for automotive seats with natural-oil polyols (NOPs). These NOPs include renewable resources, such as castor, canola, palm and soy oils. As a result of this innovation, customers are offered a global, sustainable solution in vehicle seat foam.

With its global presence, JCI can match local, sustainable solutions to resource availability, taking advantage of the abundance of various natural resources in specific world regions. For example, soy is abundant in North America, where Johnson Controls manufactures soy oil-based foam seats for approximately 11 different vehicle platforms. In Malaysia, where palm oil is abundant, the company will begin producing seat-foam products using palm oil this year.

As the market leader in automotive seating, we are dedicated to using renewable resources to create more environmentally friendly materials, said Foster. Our engineers integrate our advanced materials into seating products that deliver the ultimate in seating sustainability to our customers.

According to Foster, engineers at JCI have set an industry milestone for mass reduction with the Synergy Seat ranging from 20 to 27% vs. current seating systems.

An all-steel version of this structure is 32% lighter than conventional systems, while the aluminum-steel version targeting hybrid vehicles is up to 40% lighter. The seat’s comfort shell, side shields and back panels are made of recyclable polypropylene. The seat is covered with an earth-friendly material made of a new generation of technically advanced, polyurethane-based products. This material is easy-to- clean, 68% lighter than leather, and is manufactured using an environmentally sound production process.