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Ford and Heinz cook up new materials. Image by Ford.

Ford and Heinz cook up new materials
Ford is working with several companies to develop advanced new automotive materials - including Heinz.
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Ford has confirmed that it is working with food giant, Heinz, to investigate using left-over tomato parts to create new plastics that are suitable for automotive use.

Dried tomato skins could be made into wiring brackets or storage bins using sustainable composite materials incorporating plant fibre. "We are exploring whether this food processing by-product makes sense for an automotive application," said Ellen Lee, Ford plastics research specialist. "Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact."

For nearly two years Ford had been working with Heinz, The Coca-Cola Company, Nike Inc. and Procter & Gamble on plant-based plastics. The exercise is part of the automotive giant's commitment to reduce its environmental footprint. A number of components already incorporate bio-based materials including cellulose fibres reinforcing centre consoles and rice hull-filled electrical cowl brackets. There are also coconut-based composite materials and soy foam seat cushions.

Anything else?

Each year Heinz processes over two million tons of tomatoes to make ketchup with skin, stems and seeds left over; the company is keen to find innovative uses for this material.

Vidhu Nagpal, Heinz's Research and Development associate director, said: "We are delighted that the technology has been validated. Although we are in the very early stages of research, and many questions remain, we are excited about the possibilities this could produce for both Heinz and Ford, and the advancement of sustainable 100 per cent plant-based plastics."

John Lambert - 17 Jun 2014    - Ford road tests
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