Ford set to use bamboo, recycled materials

Words: Nile Bijoux
21 Apr 2017

Bamboo is set to be a new renewable resource for Ford in upcoming cars. The Blue Oval already make use of recycled materials but this will be their first use of bamboo in a vehicle.

You might think that lightweight, strong materials in cars is limited to ultra-high-tech carbon fibre and brand new metals, but bamboo could provide a renewable, green alternative.

Ford has been looking at the viability of using bamboo in upcoming vehicle interiors and even as an extra strong material by combining it with plastic. The researchers have found that bamboo performs "comprehensively better" than other tested materials, both synthetic and natural. Tests involved tensile strength tests (how much it can resist being pulled apart), impact strength tests as well as being heated to over 100 degrees Celsius to ensure it can maintain integrity.

“Bamboo is amazing,” said Janet Yin, a materials engineering supervisor at Ford’s Nanjing Research & Engineering Centre. “It’s strong, flexible, totally renewable, and plentiful in China and many other parts of Asia.”

Other than bamboo, Ford have been working with several other sustainable materials including:

- Kenaf, a tropical plant in the cotton family, is used in the door bolsters of Ford Escape

- REPREVE fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles, diverts more than 5 million plastic bottles from landfill annually. Ford most recently introduced REPREVE in F-150

- Post-consumer cotton from denim and T-shirts is used as interior padding and sound insulation in most Ford vehicles

- EcoLon post-consumer nylon carpeting is used as cylinder head covers in Ford Escape, Fusion, Mustang and F-150

- Recycled plastic bottles are becoming floor carpeting, wheel liners and shields in several vehicles including Ford Transit and C-MAX

- Recycled post-consumer tires are used in seals and gaskets

- Rice hulls are used to reinforce plastic in Ford F-150 electrical harness

- Soy-based foams are used as seat cushions, seatbacks and head restraints in Ford’s North American vehicle lineup

- Wheat straw is used in Ford Flex to reinforce storage bins

- Cellulose tree fibers are used in the armrest of Lincoln MKX. Used to replace glass-filled plastic, this industry-first material weighs 10 percent less, is produced 30 percent faster, and reduces carbon emissions

Ford also announced a partnership with Jose Cuevo to explore the use of its agave plant byproduct to develop sustainable bioplastics. 
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