Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has announced innovative plans to harness factory emissions in order to create parts for its vehicles in the future.
The company is currently developing and testing new types of plastic and foam components using carbon dioxide generated during the manufacturing process. Ford’s executive chairman Bill Ford revealed the plans to Fortune during a two-day energy summit called Brainstorm E that was held in Carlsbad, California. Almost half the foam that the company is currently testing has been made using polyols based on CO2. The foam could be used to make vehicle components such as engine parts or car seats.
Analysts expect future Ford vehicles to have the bio-foam in the next five years if the technology is a success. The company claims that the journey of discovering new solutions for the environment has been an interesting one. It also claims that one of the most exciting parts of the project is that the technology presents solutions that were not possible less than four years ago.
Most of the foams used to make cars today are made from fossil fuels. Roughly 4% of the oil used globally is used to manufacture plastics. Manufacturing the foam from carbon dioxide could help to lower the amount of petroleum used by roughly 600 million pounds every year. Ford claims that the oil amount that would be saved is enough to fuel about 35,000 American homes. Ford has been growing more conscious about emissions and is currently using biomaterials such as soy foam which is used in every car that it sells in North America.
Some of the products that the company recycles include plastic bottles which are converted into fibers used in the F-150 model or the coconut fibers used in the company’s truck liners. Ford began to carry out research on captured CO2 in 2013 together with a few universities and company suppliers. In November 2015, the automaker teamed up with a New York-based firm that uses carbon dioxide from manufacturing companies to make innovative products.