Earlier this week I had the pleasure to sit down with some of the ladies (yes, ladies!) from Ford Motor Company. They were visiting California from their home-base in Dearborn, Michigan and I got to learn about some of the innovative products they are working on in their vehicles. Not just in design, but in the use of renewable and sustainable materials.
For example, did you know that more than 3 million Ford vehicles on the road today contain soy foam?Ford’s use of soy foam has helped the company reduce its petroleum oil usage by more than 3 million pounds annually and it carbon dioxide emissions by more than 15 million pounds annually. Since soy is primarily grown in the Midwest, which is where Ford manufacturing is headquartered, this further minimizes their carbon footprint on the environment. And, since US farmers grow an over-abundance of soy (they export ~50% of their crops), Ford is able to support local farmers through this innovative use of their product.
They also use other materials that would otherwise be waste-products, such as the husk of a coconut shell or wheat straw. Ford is actually the first automaker to develop and use wheat straw reinforced plastic in it vehicles, which can be found in the 3rd row storage bins on the 2010 Ford Flex. It’s use alone reduces petroleum consumption by about 20,000 pounds annually and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 30,000 pounds a year. They are working on putting other natural fiber reinforced materials into the interior, exterior and under-hood plastics for multiple product lines.
The application of these materials isn’t just limited to the hard plastics seen throughout their cars. Ford is working with a compostable plastic known as polylactide (PLA), which is derived completely from the sugars in corn, sugar beets, sugar cane, switch grass and other plants. A plastic part made from PLA can fully compost after its life cycle in 90 to 120 days in an industrial compost facility versus more than 1,000 years for a traditional petroleum-based plastic. PLA has a host of potential automotive uses, from textile applications or vehicle carpeting, floor mats and upholstery to interior trim.
In 2008, eco-friendly seating fabrics were used in the Ford Escape. Ford was actually the first USA Automotive company to utilize 100% Post Industrial recycled yarns. This annually conserves, 600,000 gallons of water, 1.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents, and 7 million kilowatt hours of electricity. Ford continues to explore other fibers and processes to further reduce their impact on the environment. In addition to the processing reducing waste on our environment, many of these materials are lighter-weight, and thus create a more fuel-efficient vehicle–which is so important in these times of >$4.00 per gallon prices!
I also learned about the great work that a couple of the Ford Chemical Engineers, Ellen and Angela, are doing to reach out to young women in the community. They regularly offer tours and speak with high school girls about what it takes to become an engineer and stimulate interest in this very male-dominated field. Angela herself started out at Ford as a high school intern and continued interning through college and graduate school, so she is a product of this outreach!
To learn more on how Ford is working towards being green, you visit their website.
* WE DID NOT RECEIVE MONETARY COMPENSATION FOR THIS REVIEW. THAT’S IT MOMMY DID HAVE A LUNCHEON WITH FORD RESEARCHERS AND REPRESENTATIVES TO FACILITATE THIS POST. THIS WILL IN NO WAY SWAY OUR OPINION OF THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE. THE REVIEW IS IN OUR OWN WORDS AND IS OUR OPINION. YOUR RESULTS AND OPINIONS MAY DIFFER.