Ford Invents Eco-Friendly Soy Rubber

Ford Invents Eco-Friendly Soy Rubber

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Ford-Interior-2009Ford Motor Company researchers have engineered a formula to use renewable soy oil to improve rubber car parts making them more environmentally friendly.

By using renewable soy oil as a replacement for 25 percent of the petroleum oil used in rubber, Ford more than doubles the material’s stretchability and helps reduce the carbon emissions from its raw materials. The new formula can be used in automotive parts such as deflector shields and baffles, radiator deflector shields, cupholder inserts and floor mats.

According to the International Rubber Study Group, the automotive sector accounts for more than 50 percent of worldwide rubber consumption, which exceeded 22 million metric tons in 2008.

Ford also was the first automaker to demonstrate that soy-based foams could be formulated to pass stringent requirements for automotive applications, starting with seats for the 2008 Ford Mustang later on Ford Escapes and Mercury Mariners.

Using bio foam on more than 2 million vehicles, Ford has annually reduced its petroleum oil usage by more than 3 million pounds and its carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million pounds.

The use of soy content in automotive applications also supports American farmers. The United Soybean Board works with Ford in an effort to get more soy-based products to market.

Ford also is looking at the use of other renewable sources for foam, including grape seed and sunflower oil. In addition to bio foam, the company is working with post-consumer recycled resins to make underbody systems, post-industrial recycled yarns for seat fabrics, repurposed nylon carpeting made into nylon resin and molded into cylinder head covers, and wheat straw-reinforced plastic parts.

The use of recycled or renewable content is making a positive impact on the environment and Ford’s bottom line. In 2009, Ford reduced the amount of automotive-related plastics to landfills by nearly 30 million pounds and saved approximately $4.5 million by reusing recycled materials.

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