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Ford studying bamboo as next-gen raw material

Ford studying bamboo as next-gen raw material  image

Eric Tipan / Ford | April 20, 2017 08:00

Future Ford models may soon use bamboo for interior materials

Components of your future Ford vehicle, including parts of the cabin, may soon be made with the humble bamboo.

Ford has invested in research incorporating one of the world’s strongest natural materials, the bamboo, as it has shown high tensile strength, heat resistance and capacity to withstand intense impact.

“Bamboo is amazing. It’s strong, flexible, totally renewable, and plentiful in China and many other parts of Asia,” said Janet Yin, a materials engineering supervisor at Ford’s Nanjing Research & Engineering Centre.

Able to rival metal’s building properties and withstand 100 Celsius while still maintaining integrity, bamboo also has regenerative properties and grows to full maturity within two to five years.

The US automaker has spent the past few years working with suppliers to assess the feasibility of using bamboo in vehicle interiors and other components when combine with plastic to create a super hard material. 

Ford studying bamboo as next-gen raw material

Aside from testing bamboo, Ford currently uses these sustainable materials for auto manufacturing:

• Kenaf, a tropical plant in the cotton family, is used in the door bolsters of Ford Escape

• REPREVE fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles, diverts more than 5 million plastic bottles from landfill annually. Ford most recently introduced REPREVE in F-150

• Post-consumer cotton from denim and T-shirts is used as interior padding and sound insulation in most Ford vehicles

• EcoLon post-consumer nylon carpeting is used as cylinder head covers in Ford Escape, Fusion, Mustang and F-150

• Recycled plastic bottles are becoming floor carpeting, wheel liners and shields in several vehicles including Ford Transit and C-MAX

• Recycled post-consumer tires are used in seals and gaskets

• Rice hulls are used to reinforce plastic in Ford F-150 electrical harness

• Soy-based foams are used as seat cushions, seatbacks and head restraints in Ford’s North American vehicle lineup

• Wheat straw is used in Ford Flex to reinforce storage bins

• Cellulose tree fibers are used in the armrest of Lincoln MKX. Used to replace glass-filled plastic, this industry-first material weighs 10 percent less, is produced 30 percent faster, and reduces carbon emissions