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Ford’s latest initiative in biomaterials will see the company include wheat straw-reinforced plastic in the design of one of its latest vehicles.
The first application of the natural fibre-based plastic, which contains 20 percent wheat straw bio-filler, will be used in the 2010 Ford Flex’s third-row interior storage bins.
Wheat straw is a waste byproduct of wheat. It is estimated that in Ontario, where the Flex is built, there is an estimated 30 million metric tons of wheat straw waste available at any given time.
Ford say that by using this material they will reduce petroleum usage by 20,000 pounds per year, and reduce CO2 emissions by 30,000 pounds per year,
Ford researchers were approached with the wheat straw-based plastics formulation by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, as part of the Ontario BioCar Initiative – a multi-university effort between Waterloo, the University of Guelph, University of Toronto and University of Windsor.
“”Ford continues to explore and open doors for greener materials that positively impact the environment and work well for customers,”” said Patrick Berryman, a Ford engineering manager who develops interior trim. “”We seized the opportunity to add wheat straw-reinforced plastic as our next sustainable material on the production line, and the storage bin for the Flex was the ideal first application.””
The wheat straw-reinforced resin is the BioCar Initiative’s first production-ready application. Researchers say that it demonstrates better dimensional integrity than a non-reinforced plastic and weighs up to 10 percent less than a plastic reinforced with talc or glass.
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