Ford Trucks Eat Beans

Blue Oval Thinks Green
by Jason Giacchino

When you think of automotive recycling, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Batteries perhaps?  Maybe the core charge on bits you pick up at the parts store to ensure that you get the OEM stuff back?  Well believe it or not, your Ford truck is likely constructed from a wide variety of bio-renewable content, not the least of which comes from Soybeans.  You didn’t really think these legumes were only good for eating, did you?

Thanks to a partnership with a firm called Recycled Polymeric Materials, over 2.2 million lbs. of rubber from recycled tires and 150,000 lbs. of soy have been used to make engine seals and gaskets since 2008.

For 2011, eleven Ford vehicles, including the F-150, F-250 and F-350 trucks will continue on with soybean derived engine gaskets and seals.  Believe it or not the converted beans are also used in constructing foam seat cushions.  Other renewable truck parts? Wheat straw-filled interior plastics, recycled resins for underbody systems, even recycled yarns on seat covers!

If you doubt such measures make a difference, consider the following: The recycled tire and soy efforts alone have cut some 1,675 combined tons from the 11 vehicles this model year!

Approximately 85% of the world’s soybean crop is processed into soy meal and vegetable oil at present, meaning Ford is only scratching the surface of the potential uses as a renewable commodity.  In case you are wondering, most gaskets are traditionally constructed from sheet materials, such as gasket paper, rubber, silicone, metal (steel or copper), cork, neoprene, fiberglass, Teflon or, perhaps most common, composites (asbestos and more recently graphite).  Suffice it to say, not only are soy constructed components nearly infinitely renewable, they are far less environmentally damaging at the conclusion of their life cycle.

We might go as far as to say this is some of the most innovative recycling/bio-renewable construction going on in the automotive world today, but let us not forget that Ford’s been using a material called EcoLon, a nylon resin, in its cylinder head covers that’s made from 100% recycled carpet. 

They’ve been using it since 2010 and report that they’ve saved more than 4.1 million pounds of carpet from landfills, or more than 985,000 yards of carpet while reducing the consumption of more than 430,000 gallons of oil in the process.  Turns out the key to auto manufacturing that doesn’t harm the planet is all around us: growing in the fields and even directly under our feet.

This impressive use of green technology gets
you thinking: what’s the best use of technology, green or otherwise,
that Ford is working with today?
Join the conversation at Ford Truck Enthusiasts’ Forums!

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