Part 2: Green Building Materials
Earlier this week, I wrote about my experience at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. Specifically, I discussed the Ford Escape Hybrid. While I was in Dearborn, I also had the chance to check out some of the “green” materials that Ford is currently using/plans to use in their vehicles.
One of these materials is soy-based foam, which is present in the 2008 Mustang, the F-150, the Expedition, the Navigator, and the Focus. The foam is made by crushing soybeans to get oil, which is then turned into soy polyol. According to Ford, the foam reduces CO2 emissions by 5 million pounds annually. Soy proteins are also eventually going to be used in rubber parts.
Other materials that Ford is looking at include Indian grass to make molding compounds and hemp for door panel inserts and insulation.
One questionable green material that Ford is looking at is corn. Currently, Ford researchers are using corn to make polylactic acid (PLA), a biodegradable plastic. Considering how much corn is already going into biofuels, it doesn’t really make sense for a major car manufacturer to start pumping out plastic made from the stuff. We only have so much land that can be used for our food supplies, and there must be a better way to create biodegradable plastic.
But Ford can’t be faulted for trying. With so much experimentation going on in the search for environmentally friendly building materials, they’re bound to get it right at some point.