The growing level of pollution across the globe has pushed every single manufacturer, be it an automobile manufacturer, or any other company to think over environmental concerns. While reducing emissions and producing alternate fuel powered cars is one solution, reducing carbon footprint in manufacturing a car is equally important too.
Ford Motor Company, the American auto giant decided to try something new in this regards and ended up being the first automaker to formulate foam and plastic components made out of carbon fibre feedstock. How cool does it sound? Ford not only successfully produced these new bio-materials using 50% CO2 based polyols, it also tested the material using rigorous automotive test standards.
Automobile emission is the talk of the town and manufacturers and scientists across the globe are finding ways to reduce Co2 emission. If we can capture the emitted Co2 and utilize it to form materials like plastic and foam, that can be used to build seats and underhood applications, the use of petroleum can be reduced by 600 million pounds annually, enough to fill nearly 35,00 American homes.
“Ford is working aggressively to lower its environmental impact by reducing its use of petroleum-based plastic and foam,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader of sustainability. “This technology is exciting because it is contributing to solving a seemingly insurmountable problem – climate change. We are thrilled to be leading the charge toward reducing carbon emissions and the effects of climate change.”
Ford is expecting to put the formulated bio-materials into production cars within five years from now, drastically reducing carbon footprints, in addition to other initiatives like building more fuel efficient cars. Ford already manufacturers award winning EcoBoost engine, that uses downsized cylinder, hence improving fuel efficiency.
As of the carbon emissions, more than 2.4 million pounds of Co2 is released into the atmosphere every second, potentially raising concerns over the climate change. Plastic is one of the major culprit here with nearly 4% of world's oil used to manufacture plastic and plastic products (According to British Plastic Foundation). Also, plastic is mostly non-biodegradable, leading to toxic waste.
Ford understands its environmental liabilities and has been researching on sustainable materials for nearly two decades. Researchers at the company have successfully developed environment friendly solutions like soybeans turned seat foam, door bolsters made of kenaf, recycled T-shirts and denim for carpeting, and recycled plastic bottles used as seat fabric.
As for the foam and plastic made of CO2, Ford began working with several companies, suppliers and universities in 2013 to find the applications for the captured CO2. A New York based company, Novomer, who specializes in producing innovative materials through CO2, helped Ford formulate a polymer that can be used to build foam and plastic that are easily recyclable.