Ford Working On Bio-Materials to Use in Cars

Yesterday we wrote that we didn't write positive stories about Ford all that often. Well, so much for that now. The Auto Channel reports that the blue oval is developing a bio-material based on soybean oil to replace the plastic-based conventional foam in car seats and headrests. The soy-foam is easy to make and inexpensive; the biggest problem so far has been with the smell (probably too much of a change from the toxic smell of new cars). "The foam smells like vegetable oil, which is also made 100 percent from soybean oil. It's not necessarily a bad smell, but people get in their cars and are not used to smelling vegetable oil. But recently, with the soy foams, with new the formulation, we’ve been able to pass the odor requirements." Read on for Ford's fiberglass replacement bio-material.

"As we see an increase in crude oil prices, there is potential for petroleum prices to keep going up and we might get a better cost advantage with the renewable resource materials," she says. "The second advantage is using a product that grows agriculturally, is a sustainable materials that is renewable. It supports the local crops."

Along with the foams, the other main thrust of the team’s work has been the development of natural fibers as replacement for the fiberglass now used as reinforcement material in sheet molding compounds, which are used in body panels, grill openings and other components.

Dr. Deborah F. Mielewski, the technical leader of the team, explains that natural fiber composites offer numerous advantages over their glass counterparts.

"The natural fibers are certainly less expensive than glass fibers," said Mielewski. "So we expect the cost reduction. We hope that the materials will cost less, and we use a lower mass of materials because it's lighter weight material."

She added that the fibers also offer advantages to workers who have to deal with the glass.

"Glass is difficult to handle, and people suffer respiratory issues when they handle glass," said Mielewski. "So we're hoping that, in the plant, the natural fibers will provide advantages for health."

Certainly a step in the right direction.

::Ford Developing Bio-Material to Use in Cars, via ::Jalopnik ::Ford's New Energy Efficient Furnaces, ::Ford Kills 19-Foot Gas-Guzzler Excursion, ::New Ford V6 Shows Evolutionary Improvements, ::Get Your Ford Mariner Hybrid Online

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