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The rice hulls are sourced from farms in Arkansas and will replace a talc-based reinforcement in a polypropylene composite made by RheTech, a Whitmore Lake, Michingan-based automotive supplier.
Ford is using plastic reinforced with rice hulls – a byproduct of rice grain – in an electrical harness in the 2014 F-150. The company will need at least 45,000 pounds of hulls in the first year.Rice hull-reinforced plastic is the most recent example of Ford researchers and engineers using sustainable material whenever possible in the F-Series – without compromising toughness and durability. F-Series trucks already feature:
Researchers in Dearborn are constantly searching for the next sustainable material that can feasibly be used in Ford vehicles. Finding a source of material is only the beginning of the process, however, because before making it to production, components made from recycled content must perform as well or better than comparable virgin-grade material.Materials development engineers at Ford Materials Engineering, Testing and Standards in Dearborn, in conjunction with RheTech, conducted testing of the rice hull material for more than a year, examining everything from smell and appearance to functionality and flammability. The rice hull-based material passed all tests.With F-Series as one of America’s best-selling truck for 36 years – averaging more than 650,000 sales per year – the environmental impact of being as sustainable as possible adds up fast. Ford estimates about 10 million pounds of recycled cotton are used in F-Series trucks annually.The eco-friendly aspects of F-Series extend to the powertrain. The available 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine combines technologies typically associated with heavy-duty truck diesel engines – turbocharging and direct fuel injection – in a gasoline engine. The engine delivers fuel economy gains of up to 20 percent, while reducing CO2 emissions by up to 15 percent.More information: www.ford.com