Ford wants bioplastic in cars

Ford researchers are hoping to develop 100% petroleum-free automotive plastics to make it to make cars totally compostable – as long as they don’t compost while being driven of course. In fact, decomposition is one of the 3 main challenges that Ford is trying to overcome since bioplastic (e.g. polylactic acid) is designed to decompose quickly.

Maybe bioplastic developers can design a time-activated material where vehicles have expiration date and that’s when decomposition process starts??

Other challenges that Ford researchers are looking for solutions include less moisture absorption (since natural fiber-reinforced plastics are more likely to absorb moisture causing durability concerns), and odor problems.

Despite those challenges, biobased/recycled materials are already being used in several Ford vehicles:

  • Soy-based polyurethane foams on the seat cushions and seatbacks on the Ford Mustang, Expedition, F-150, Focus, Escape, Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner and Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln MKS.

  • Soy-foam headliner on the 2010 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner.

  • Underbody systems, such as aerodynamic shields, splash shields and radiator air deflector shields, made from post-consumer recycled resins such as detergent bottles, tires and battery casings.

  • 100% postindustrial recycled yarns in seat fabrics on vehicles such as the Ford Escape. The 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids feature 85% postindustrial yarns and 15% solution-dyed yarns.

Ford researchers said they are looking more at plastics, rubber, foam, film and fabric to develop alternative bio-based materials that are functional, durable, cost-effective, and decreases use of petroleum oil.

Possibilities include replacing glass fibers with natural fiber reinforcements made from cellulose, soy protein, hemp fiber, flax fiber and other bio-based materials; and PLA bioplastics for vehicle carpeting, floor mats, upholstery, and nondurable auto applications such as protective wrappings used during vehicle manufacturing and transit.

See previous post “Green Car Inside Out” and “Biobased auto parts growing” for more on biobased products development news in automotive application.

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One Response to Ford wants bioplastic in cars

  1. angelo marra 22 February, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    i have a better matiral than wheat or as you say hay! to simple it will last for 20 years unless you paint it again then it will last another 20 and very low very very low voc’s water resistent and has a fire rating i think A hows that no resin thank you please comment

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