With high oil prices upon us once again, automakers are looking to new sources of materials when it comes to vehicle component manufacture.
In Ford‘s case, we’ve seen developments like soybeans used in seat covers, recycled denim jeans for sound deadening, even wheat straw for plastic bins and Kenaf (a tropical, cotton derived plant) used for interior door panels.
Perhaps even more ambitious, is an idea of using shredded, retired dollar bills for parts such as interior bins and trays. Around 8,000-10,000 lbs worth of old currency is shredded every day and either compressed into bricks, placed in landfills or burned. By tapping into this “money waste,” Ford says that along with other sustainable materials, it will significantly reduce the need for oil-based resins and plastics in vehicle manufacturing.
“The potential to reuse some of the country’s paper currency once it has been taken out of circulation is a great example of research we’re doing,” said Ford’s global director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental matters, John Viera.
Among vehicles currently using sustainable materials in their construction are the above 2013 Escape (soybean seat cushions, Kenaf in the door panels and cotton insulation in the dash), 2013 Ford Fusion (cotton cabin insulation equivalent to two pairs of denim jeans) and Flex (wheat straw in the storage bins).
Regarding the Escape door panels, Ford says that by using Kenaf in their construction, it offsets some 300,000 lbs worth of oil based resins per year.