Ford partners with Scotts Miracle-Gro for plastics research

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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Did you ever consider that the coconut would one day be an ingredient in cars as well as food? Ford Motor Company is currently working together with The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company to learn how the tropical fruit could one day be used as a material for reinforcing plastics.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company currently uses coconut coir (the fibre from the coconut husk) in its soil and grass seed products. The leftover coir material, which would have otherwise been wasted, can now be used for research at Ford.

"Scotts Miracle-Gro uses more than 70 million pounds of coir a year in our consumer products," said Dave Swihart, senior vice president of global supply chain at Scotts Miracle-Gro. "Teaming up with Ford to find a high-value use for our leftover coir material is very exciting for us as we continually work to make our products and operations more sustainable."

Researchers at Ford make use of the coir by combining it with plastic in order to reinforce the material while also reducing the need for petroleum as an ingredient. The use of coconut coir also makes for a reduction in the weight of the plastic components. Ford says that the use of coconut coir can be employed for the construction of storage bins, door trim, seat trim and centre console substrates.

"This is a win-win situation. We're taking a material that is a waste stream from another industry and using it to increase the sustainability in our vehicles," said Dr. Ellen Lee, technical expert for plastics research at Ford. "We continue to search for innovative renewable technologies that can both reduce our dependence on petroleum as well as improve fuel economy."

This push toward increasing the use of renewable resources is credited to Ford's global sustainability strategy. Ford currently focuses on increasing the use of bio-based and nonmetal recycled materials in its automobiles. In addition to coconut coir, Ford has also researched the use of soy foam in seat cushions and head restraints, wheat straw-filled plastic, recycled resins for vehicle underbodies, recycled yarn for seat covers and even castor oil foam for instrument panels.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Ford, Sustainablity and Green Technologies, Scotts Miracle-Gro,

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