As emissions regulations get tighter, there's a lot of focus on making engines more efficient, but engines aren't the only part of a car that are bad for the environment. The plastics and foams spread throughout the cabin are dirty to manufacture as well, so Ford is trying to tackle the problem by using captured CO2 in foam and plastic components.
Fifty percent of the polyols in Ford's new foam are CO2-based, which means there is far less oil used in their production. The company plans on using the foam in seats and under the hood of its cars and by doing so, the Detroit giant says it could save up to 600 million pounds (272 million kg) of petroleum every year.
At the moment, the foam is being tested to make sure it can stand up to the rigors of consumer use. The project has been running since 2013, and involves suppliers like New York's Novomer, which uses CO2 captured from manufacturing plants to create polymers used in foams and plastics.
"Ford is working aggressively to lower its environmental impact by reducing its use of petroleum-based plastic and foam," said Debbie Mielewski, senior technical leader of sustainability at Ford. "This technology is exciting because it is contributing to solving a seemingly insurmountable problem – climate change."
According to Ford, there are plans to develop more foam and plastic components using captured carbon in an attempt to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and the new biomaterials could be integrated into its vehicles within the next five years.