The multinational automaker, Ford Motor Company, headquartered in Michigan, US announced last year that they were teaming up with ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co. to turn tomato skins into auto parts.
Scientist at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California believe that they can use tomato fibres to manufacture composite materials used for different auto parts made from petroleum-based plastics. When these parts go into production, Ford will be able to re-purpose peels, stems and seeds of two million tons of tomatoes that have been used by Heinz annually to produce ketchup.
Aside from tomatoes, from a recent trip to the Ford Research and Innovation Center, Capital Lifestyle also learned that scientists were also developing new uses for soy beans, corn and rice hulls.
Sustainable Automotive Parts
Polyactide (PLA) plastic, 100 per cent corn-based and biodegradable thermoplastic aliphatic polyester, which can compost in 90-120 days, has shown tremendous potential in the finishing of an automobile. Potential automotive uses include carpeting, upholstery and interior trim.
A byproduct of rice grain, rice hulls, is another sustainable fiber that Ford has been developing into automotive applications, such as electrical harnesses of the popular F-150 trucks. Bio-based fibers such as rice hulls are lightweight and fibrous, which can reinforce polyolefins.
Foam made from soy beans has been used in the seats of Ford Mustangs and scientists are looking to incorporate soy beans in other areas including lubricants and body parts.