DEARBORN, MI – Ford Motor Co. and Lear Corp. have introduced new head restraint foam that has 25 percent of the polyol replaced with soy.
Seventy-five percent of Ford’s North American vehicles feature bio-foam in the head restraints, including the Ford F-150, Taurus, Explorer and Fusion. All Ford vehicles built in North America use bio-foam content in the seat cushions and backs.
“We are continuously looking for new ways to expand our use of bio-based foam, and head restraints are a perfect example,” said Debbie Mielewski, technical leader in plastics research at Ford. “It’s a new location with higher soy content. We’re not stopping at head restraints, either. There are still many other applications in which traditional foam can be converted to bio-based soy foam on vehicles, such as energy-absorption areas, steering wheels and armrests.”
The extended use of soy foam results from the continued research collaboration between Ford and Lear. Ford first used sustainable soybean oil-derived seating foam on the 2008 Mustang. The collaboration also generated the recent complete conversion of all Lear North American Ford seating cushion foam to Lear SoyFoam.
SoyFoam is up to 24 percent more renewable than petroleum-based foam. The biomaterial has helped Ford reduce its annual petroleum oil usage by more than 3 million pounds. The use of SoyFoam also has helped Ford reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 15 million pounds. SoyFoam also can provide a 67-percent reduction in volatile organic compound emissions.
“Our success with the introduction of sustainable products confirms customer acceptance of the technology and the need for green automotive interior innovation,” said Ash Galbreath, director of advanced materials and comfort engineering for Lear Corp. “Lear’s advancement of ecological breakthroughs is intended both to reduce product sensitivity to petroleum raw material price fluctuations and lessen our impact on the environment.”
Ford continues to research the use of other renewable sources for foam, including palm, rapeseed and sunflower oil in markets around the world where those commodities are locally available and cost effective.