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Post: Ford uses olive trees to build car parts in latest project: ‘A material that shows no compromise in strength, durability, or flexibility’

Ford

Ford uses olive trees to build car parts in latest project: ‘A material that shows no compromise in strength, durability, or flexibility’

Ford might want to consider naming its next vehicle the Arbequina.

The mouths of olive eaters are likely watering already, as that’s the name of a “fruity, buttery, and nutty” olive sourced from Spain, according to none other than Martha Stewart.

But the automaker isn’t planning to stock vehicles with snacks. Rather, Ford has an interesting concept to build car parts from discarded olive tree waste.

It’s part of an effort at Ford to use less plastic in car parts in a more circular production process. Planet overheating is already causing dry conditions in Spain and elsewhere, which impacts olive crops. Better utilizing more of the trees during harvest by making a planet-friendly plastic alternative can help reduce some of the environmental impacts hurting the trees in the first place, including drought, as the process doesn’t need more water.

“We don’t have any additional land usage or water consumption,” project lead Inga Wehmeyer said in a video clip shared by Ford.

Company officials, working from their European headquarters in Germany, claim in the clip that they can turn branches, twigs, and leaves already grown by the olive trees into footrests and other parts.

Testing has proved that the olive-based car parts are durable. Ford is continuing to study the material, with plans to use the unique product in the next generation of electric vehicles.

The invention isn’t entirely plastic-free. Ford reports that 40% is olive fiber. The other 60% is recycled polypropylene plastic. Experts consider this to be “one of the safer plastics,” according to Healthline.

“In order to get the mix just right, we had to experiment with different ratios of waste material and polypropylene,” injection mold expert Thomas Baranowski said in a Ford press release.

This mixture can be heated and molded to the shape of the needed part. In the clip, Wehmeyer holds a footrest that “worked very well,” she said.

This effort from Ford is part of unique and unlikely innovations being developed in multiple industries to make everyday products from more sustainable sources. Tampa Bay’s Inversa is using plentiful, invasive, and destructive lionfish to make beautiful leather for designer handbags, a project also tackling a planetary problem while manufacturing a common product.

At Ford, three years of olive research have garnered promising results, helping the company to become more sustainable.

“It was hard work, but it ultimately enabled us to produce a material that shows no compromise in strength, durability, or flexibility,” Baranowski said in the press release.

Source: Tech

 

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