Ford Motor is formulating and testing new foam and plastic components using carbon dioxide as feedstock. Researchers expect to see the new biomaterials in Ford production vehicles within five years, according to a press release from the company.
Formulated with up to 50 percent CO2-based polyols, the foam is showing promise under test conditions. The company says it could be employed in seating and underhood applications, potentially reducing petroleum use by more than 600 million pounds annually.
“Ford is working aggressively to lower its environmental impact by reducing its use of petroleum-based plastic and foam,” Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader of sustainability, said in a statement. “This technology is exciting because it is contributing to solving a seemingly insurmountable problem—climate change. We are thrilled to be leading the charge toward reducing carbon emissions and the effects of climate change.”
Plastic manufacturing accounts for nearly 4 percent of the world’s oil use, according to British Plastic Federation. Ford researchers are hopeful the company’s early steps to use captured carbon in innovative ways will help reduce carbon emissions.
Ford began working with several companies, suppliers and universities in 2013 to find applications for captured CO2. Among them is Novomer—a New York-based company that utilizes carbon dioxide captured from manufacturing plants to produce innovative materials. Through a system of conversions, Novomer produces a polymer than can be formulated into a variety of materials including foam and plastic that are easily recyclable.
“Novomer is excited by the pioneering work Ford has completed with our Converge CO2-based polyols,” Peter Shepard, Novomer chief business officer, said in a statement. “It takes bold, innovative companies such as Ford to enable new technologies to become mainstream products.”