Ford's biomaterials plan

Ford looking to use wood fibers for sustainable automobile interiors

Ford and Weyerhaeuser are researching use of wood fibers to create materials that can replace the fossil fuel based materials used in traditional vehicle interior components.

Ford Motors is taking a fairly holistic approach to what some call "sustainable transportation," not only is the company developing a comprehensive range of electrified vehicles, but Ford's researchers are looking into biomaterials to replace the traditional fossil fuel based plastics and foams. Ford and Weyerhaeuser just announced a research project looking at using tree fibers to make plastic composites that can be used in automobile interiors.

Traditionally the source materials for vehicle interiors have been fiberglass, minerals and/or petroleum. Extracting and processing these materials cause an environmental footprint as well as being a part of the whole fossil fuel dependency story. Replacing these materials with biomaterials means being able to grow the source materials, rather than source them from extractive mining practices. As a general principle, extractive mining is a "use once and throw away" pattern that is a recipe for eventual society collapse because of running out of resources. Growing resources and materials is the opposite of "use once and throw away" because we can always grow more plants.

“Our responsibility to the customer is to increase our use of more sustainable materials in the right applications that benefit both the environment and product performance,” said John Viera, Ford global director of Sustainability and Environmental matters.

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