Ford to use captured CO2 to develop foam, plastic

Ford researchers foresee the new materials going into production vehicles within five years.

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Sustainable Initiatives
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Ford Motor Company announced it is formulating and testing new foam and plastic components using carbon dioxide as feedstock. Ford’s researchers expect to see the new biomaterials going into production vehicles within five years, according to a company press release. Formulated with up to 50 percent CO2-based polyols, the foam is showing promise under rigorous test conditions. It could be employed in seating and underhood applications, potentially reducing petroleum use by more than 600 million pounds annually, says the company. “Ford is working aggressively to lower its environmental impact by reducing its use of petroleum-based plastic and foam,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader of sustainability. “This technology is exciting because it is contributing to solving a seemingly insurmountable problem – climate change. We are thrilled to be leading the charge toward reducing carbon emissions and the effects of climate change.” 

Plastic manufacturing accounts for nearly 4 percent of the world’s oil use, according to British Plastic Federation. Ford researchers are hopeful the company’s early steps to use captured carbon in innovative ways will help reduce carbon emissions. Ford began working with several companies, suppliers and universities in 2013 to find applications for captured CO2. Among them is Novomer, a New York-based company that utilises carbon dioxide captured from manufacturing plants to produce innovative materials. Through a system of conversions, Novomer produces a polymer than can be formulated into a variety of materials including foam and plastic that are easily recyclable. “Novomer is excited by the pioneering work Ford has completed with our Converge CO2-based polyols,” Peter Shepard, Novomer chief business officer, said in a statement. “It takes bold, innovative companies such as Ford to enable new technologies to become mainstream products.” “At Ford, we’re aggressively developing new, more sustainable ways to produce high-quality products, with an eye toward preserving and improving our world,” said Mielewski.