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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1301

Automotive Ford Motor

Automotive Ford Motor Company Ford Escape (all photos: Ford Motor Company) Armrest (prototype) with shredded dollar bills (cotton/linen) and composite pellets Ford Motor Company, headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, USA has been working to replace components in their vehicles with recycled or renewable plastics parts for several years now. (Always keeping in mind, that Henry Ford was a pioneer in the use of soy based and other renewably sources materials already in the early twentieth century …) Soy foam Following extensive in-house materials research and development of soy-based polyurethane foams, Ford Research introduced the soy in the seating foams of the Ford Mustang in 2008. Today, the seating foams used in all Ford vehicles that are produced in North America contain soy in the formulation of the foam, as Ellen C. Lee, Plastics Research Technical Expert of Ford Motor Company told bioplastics MAGAZINE. This saves about 5 million pounds (more than 2,000 tonnes) of petroleum per year and reduces the CO 2 emissions by over 20 million pounds (about 9,000 tonnes) per year. In the meantime, Ford introduced the first lightweight headliner application made of soy foam in the Ford Escape, migrating this to other vehicles soon. Another application for soy foam is in head restraints. Currently, about 75% of all North American Ford vehicles use soy, including the Ford F-150, Taurus, Explorer and Fusion, targeting at getting this into all of the cars as well. Here foams with a higher bio-based content (25% of the polyol is soy based) are being used. “We’re not stopping at head restraints, either. There are still many other applications in which traditional foam can be converted to biobased soy foam on vehicles, such as energy-absorption areas, steering wheels and armrests”, said Debbie Mielewski, Technical Leader, Ford Plastics Research. Bio-based foam mixed with ground tires In underhood applications, such as gaskets and seals, Ford is using a different formulation of bio-based foam that includes about 25% recycled ground tires. Over 2 million pounds (900 tonnes) of ground rubber from tires (equivalent to approx. 210,000 tires) have been used and thus diverted from landfills to date. The bio-based content including soy and corn oils makes up about 17% of the material. The new formulation is currently being used on 14 Ford vehicles. Dandelion is being investigated as a source for rubber replacement Castor oil based polyamide 11 The fuel lines of 95% of all North American Ford vehicles are made from castor oil based polyamide 11. This 100% bio-based nylon saves more than one million pounds (450 tonnes) of CO 2 emissions every year compared to nylon 12. 22 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/13] Vol. 8

Automotive Natural fiber The activities in the field of wheat straw filled polypropylene, as reported last year for one vehicle, continue towards implementation for more applications and more vehicle lines. Another natural fiber application currently used for the Escape is a 50% kenaf fiber reinforced polypropylene that replaces over 300,000 pounds (140 tonnes) of fully petroleum based resins per year. In addition to this petroleum saving potential, a weight savings of 25% leads to even more fuel savings. In 2012 Ford launched a 15% rice-hull filled polypropylene application. In addition to a wiring bracket, Ford is continuing to look at further potential applications for this material. Of course, Ford is constantly evaluating more potential applications, materials, and material combinations such as numerous types of natural fibers (including wood, cellulose, or even retired U.S. dollar bills (cotton/linen) for injection molded interior, exterior, and underhood applications. The replacement of mineral filled and glass reinforced composites with natural fiber composites allows weight savings as well as the u se of renewable resources. Bio-based rubbers In the field of rubbers, Ford is looking into renewable sources such as guayule (Parthenium argentatum) or russian dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz) for the production of caoutchouc products. Guayule is a plant that grows for instance in the Southwest of the USA or in Mexico and can be grown more sustainably than e.g., the Indian rubber tree (ficus elastic) and the Para rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). Guayule does not contain the protein that can cause allergic reactions that hevea-derived rubber can cause. Russian dandelion (cf. bM 01/2012) is currently under investigation in cooperation with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) at The Ohio State University. Ford’s strategy In 2012, Ford Motor Company implemented a formal statement of their sustainable materials strategy. The strategy states that Ford’s vision is to ensure their products are engineered to enable sustainable materials leadership without compromise to product quality, durability, performance, or economics. Ford has, and continues to grow, a comprehensive research and development program to complement this strategy, which helps the company reduce the impact of materials on the environment. MT www.ford.com Bio meets plastics. The specialists in plastic recycling systems. An outstanding technology for recycling both bioplastics and conventional polymers bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/13] Vol. 8 23

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