DEARBORN, MI – Ford’s biomaterials research team is working with Weyerhaeuser, a forest products company, to develop plastic composite materials made with cellulose that could replace fiberglass or other components. Ford stated the goal is to further reduce its reliance on materials made from fiberglass and petroleum.
One advantage of the composite materials is that they weigh 10% less and can be produced 20 to 40% faster and using less energy than when made with fiberglass-based materials. Ford said these composite components meet its durability requirements, and that cellulose-based plastic composites could become just as important as soybeans currently are to the automaker (Ford uses soybean-based cushions in all of its North American vehicles, such as the new Fusion).
Currently, Ford has created several prototype components and has put them through testing, for example armrests. The automaker said the cellulose material can also be used in exterior and under-hood components, too.
Some of the other types of recycled or renewable materials used in Ford vehicles include recycled plastic used in seat fabric in the Fusion; post-consumer recycled carpet in its cylinder head covers; soybean-based cushions and head restrains in all of its North American vehicle lineup; wheat straws in plastic bins in the Flex; Kenaf fiber in the door bolsters of the Escape; a wood-fiber material in the doors in the Focus electric along with recycled plastic bottles in its seat cushions; material from recycled jeans in the Fusion in sound-damping material; and recycled plastic bottle material in the Escape’s carpet.