Ford Motor announced today that it will use wheat-straw reinforced plastic in its vehicle Ford Flex in 2010. The company is working with plastic compounder A. Schulman of Akron, Ohio, as well as with the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, in the development of wheat straw-based plastics formulation as part of the Ontario BioCar Initiative.
Ford said it is the first automaker to use wheat-straw plastics in vehicles. The company plans to use the bio-based material in Ford Flex's third-row interior storage bins, which, they said will reduce petroleum use by 20,000 pounds/year and will reduce carbon emissions by 30,000 pounds/year.
The wheat straw-reinforced resin is said to be BioCar Initiative's first production-ready application. the bio-resin reportedly demonstrates better dimensional integrity than a non-reinforced plastic and weighs up to 10 percent less than a plastic reinforced with talc or glass.
Other applications being planned for the plastic include center console bins and trays, interior air register, door trim panel components, and armrest liners. Currently, Ford and its suppliers are said to be working with four southern Ontario farmers for the wheat straw supply.
More on Ford's bioplastic initiatives here.