Ford to use rice hulls, other green materials, in new F-150 trucks

By Jennifer Kalish
Editorial Intern

Published: August 9, 2013 1:55 pm ET
Updated: August 9, 2013 2:01 pm ET

Image By: RheTech Inc. Ford has been working with compounder RheTech Inc. to produce rice hull-reinforced plastic

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Sustainability, Automotive, Materials Suppliers
Companies & Associations Ford Motor Co.

In its most recent effort to increase sustainability, Ford Motor Co. announced Aug. 5 that it will use rice hulls, a byproduct of rice grain, as a natural replacement for talc in the electrical harnesses of 2014 F-150 trucks.

For the past year and a half, Ford has been working with RheTech Inc., a compounder headquartered in Whitmore Lake, Mich., to produce rice hull-reinforced plastic for automotive applications.

"There are several companies out there that have done wood fiber for a long time, but we think we're the only one in North America working with rice," said Jim Preston, vice president of business development at RheTech. "This Ford application is very exciting for us because of the potential where this material can go within the OEM."

Rice hulls are one of many natural fibers that RheTech utilizes to reinforce polyolefins in consumer products. However, this is the first time the company developed natural fibers for an automotive application, Preston said.

"The automotive OEM community as a whole is very open to using natural fibers," he said. "The key is that part performance can't suffer."

Not only are bio-based fibers like rice hulls comparable to other materials, they are often more lightweight and sometimes even less expensive to produce — a huge potential benefit to automakers.

"Fuel economy is a top priority when it comes to Ford's environmental impact," said Carrie Majeske, Ford product sustainability manager, in a statement. "But we also recognize the tremendous impact that can be made by using sustainable materials inside our cars, utilities and trucks."

Other sustainable features of the new F-150 trucks include: recycled cotton used for carpet insulation, soybeans used in seat cushions, recycled carpet, recycled tires used to make shields and underbody covers, recycled PET for wheel liners and shields, and recycled post-industrial plastics for interior finish panels around radio and climate controls.

The company will be using approximately 45,000 pounds of rice hulls for the electrical harnesses in the first year of development, according to the news release. The hulls will be sourced from farms in Arkansas.

Ford is also considering expanding its use of rice hulls in their vehicles, though firm plans have not been set to do so. "We typically start with a pilot part and migrate to other vehicles and applications when we've confirmed success," said Majeske in an email.


Comments

Ford to use rice hulls, other green materials, in new F-150 trucks

By Jennifer Kalish
Editorial Intern

Published: August 9, 2013 1:55 pm ET
Updated: August 9, 2013 2:01 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Coffee roaster looks to improve footprint of single cup systems

April 22, 2014 1:30 pm ET

One of the largest coffee and tea manufacturers in North America has introduced a single-serve beverage capsule intended to curb the waste created by ...    More

Two Eastman buildings among 10 biggest energy savers in national contest

April 22, 2014 11:35 am ET

Two offices at the headquarters of Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport, Tenn., ranked in the Top 10 for energy efficiency in the latest Energy Star...    More

Auto supplier adds production space, jobs at plant in central Hungary

April 22, 2014 9:50 am ET

Automotive parts manufacturer Ábrahám Kft. has expanded its factory in Túrkéve, in central Hungary, with the launch of a new production hall as part...    More

Europe's bag use still expected to climb despite possible bag restrictions

April 22, 2014 9:29 am ET

Ceresana, a Germany-based research company, has released a report forecasting that by 2020 the sales volume of bags and sacks in Europe will reach 9....    More

Image

Material Insights: Shell Chemical meets with residents

April 21, 2014 2:16 pm ET

Power outage at a PE plant and the return of a PVC feedstock plant after a fire on this week's Material Insights.    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 – The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events