Technology makes strange bedfellows. Ford Motor Co. has formed a partnership with H.J. Heinz Company to research the potential of tomato fibers in the development of sustainable composite materials for vehicles. Researchers at Ford and Heinz will explore how the inedible byproducts such as dried tomato skins of the more than two million tons of tomatoes used by Heinz each year can be recycled to help produce sustainable wiring brackets and storage bins in Ford vehicles.
Ford has been looking for innovative solutions to develop strong, lightweight materials that meet its vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing the company’s environmental footprint. About two years ago, Ford began collaborating with Heinz and a few other leading companies to promote the development of a 100 percent plant-based plastic that could be used to produce everything from fabric to packaging and cut down the environmental impact.
Researchers at Heinz were trying to find innovative ways to recycle and repurpose tomato byproducts such as peels, stems and seed from the more than two million tons of tomatoes the company uses each year to produce its flagship product: Heinz ketchup. Leaders at Heinz turned to Ford. Both companies are now excited about the possibilities that their collaboration could bring about in terms of advanced sustainable 100% bio-plastic materials.
Ford is committed to accelerating the development of fuel-efficient vehicle technology worldwide. At the same time, reducing, reusing and recycling is a part of the company’s global sustainability strategy to lessen its environmental impact. Ford has already increased its use of recycled non-metal and bio-based materials in recent years. With cellulose fiber-reinforced console components and rice hull-filled electrical cowl brackets introduced in the last year, Ford’s bio-based portfolio now includes eight materials in production.
Source: Ford Press Release
Image Credit: Flickr via Nicole Yeary
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