MARCH 17, 2014
If you’re driving a new Ford, chances are you’re sitting on a seat filled with foam made from soybeans, reports the Orlando Sentinel (March 14, 2014). It’s part of the push by many automakers to produce cars that are cleaner and greener. Plant-based materials that are used now or are in some phase of development by Ford include:
1. Fibers from coconut husks that can be included in sound-absorbing underlayment for carpet.
2. Wheat straw that is showing promise as reinforcement for plastics.
3. Latex extracted from dandelion roots to produce natural rubber, potentially replacing rubber from Asia or synthetic rubber made from petroleum.
“We are a group of research scientists developing these formulations and composites and looking at non-traditional materials and implementing them in our vehicles,” says a Ford engineer. The long list of automobile parts and pieces made traditionally from petroleum ingredients include cup holders, floor mats, engine O-rings and seals, dashboard trim and many more. A typical car is made with 100 kinds of plastic materials that weigh a combined 300 pounds, which includes 30 pounds of seat foam. Ford requires plant-based materials to perform as well as and cost no more than conventional products.
This post provided courtesy of Jay and Barry’s OM Blog at www.heizerrenderom.wordpress.com. Professors Jay Heizer and Barry Render are authors of Operations Management , the world’s top selling textbook in its field, published by Pearson.