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'Bye Ford Tomaso, hello Ford Tomato?

2014-06-11 08:32

FROM FOOD TO CAR CONSTRUCTION: Ford and Heinz has teamed-up to research bio-materials, such as tomatoes, for vehicle construction. Image: Shutterstock / Alena Nex

  • Ford Heinz research tomatos for vehicles
  • Material for wiring brackets and storage bins
  • Aim to cut petrochemicals in manufacturing

DEARBORN, Michigan – Ford and Heinz are investigating the use of tomato fibre to develop sustainable composite materials in automotive manufacture.

Dried tomato skins could become wiring brackets or perhaps storage bins for coins and other small objects.

Ford US plastics research specialist, Ellen Lee, explained: “We are exploring whether this food processing by-product makes sense for an automotive application. Our goal is to develop a strong but light material while reducing our overall environmental impact.”

PEEL, STEMS FOR CAR USE?

Ford began collaborating with Heinz in 2012. Coca-Cola, Nike and Procter & Gamble (P&G - consumer goods company) are accelerating the development of a plant-based plastics to replace petroleum-based materials currently in use.

Heinz researchers are looking for innovative ways to recycle peel, stems and seeds from the more than two million tons of tomatoes the company uses each year to produce its best-selling product - Heinz Ketchup.

Heinz research and development associate director, Vidhu Nagpal, said: “We are delighted that the technology has been validated. Although research is in the very early stages we are excited about the possibilities of 100% plant-based plastics.”

Ford has, in recent years, increased its use of recycled non-metal and bio-based materials.

Cellulose fibre-reinforced console components and rice husk-filled electrical cowl brackets have been introduced along with coconut-based composites, recycled cotton material for carpeting and seat fabrics and soy-foam seat cushions and head restraints. - Newspress
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