Ford turns liability into asset - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions, Industrial  -  May 23, 2016

Ford testing new foams, plastics that use captured CO2

Though the two most common paths for manufacturers to reduce CO2 emissions are energy efficiency and renewable energy sourcing, Ford Motor Co. may have found an additional one in changing the makeup of its materials. 

The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker recently said it is testing new foams and plastics for use in its vehicles that have the potential to reduce petroleum use by more than 600 million pounds annually. The materials, according to a May 17 news release, use captured CO2 as feedstock and could be used in seating and "underhood" applications for Ford's fleet of vehicles.

Executive Chairman Bill Ford reportedly announced the company's research a day earlier at Fortune's 2016 Brainstorm E conference in California. 

Ford researchers expect the new biomaterials are to go into production within five years, the company said, adding that future goals include developing other plastic materials using captured carbon to help reduce further the need for fossil fuel-based plastics.

“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.”

The foam, according to the release, is formulated with up to 50% CO2-based polyols and is "showing promise as it meets rigorous automotive test standards." Ford said it began working with several companies, suppliers and universities in 2013 on finding applications for captured CO2, one of which it named as Novomer, a New York-based company that uses carbon dioxide captured from manufacturing plants to produce innovative materials.

Ford said plastic manufacturing accounts for nearly 4% of the world's oil use, citing the British Plastic Federation. 

Keywords: Ford Motor

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