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 Automotive, Sustainability, Materials, 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

Indian auto parts maker set to buy assets in Germany, Mexico

December 18, 2014 10:35 am ET

Indian auto parts maker Samvardhana Motherson Gropup is buying the assets of insolvent German plastics car parts producer Scherer & Trier (S&T).    More

McCann expanding in Ohio

December 17, 2014 11:59 am ET

Compounding firm McCann Plastics will spend $1.2 million on an expansion project that will create 15 new jobs at its plant in Green, Ohio.    More

Image

New extruders, repelletizer to improve production for InterGroup

December 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

InterGroup International Ltd. will install new, larger extruders and repelletizers at all three of its plastic scrap recycling locations in 2015.    More

Image

Investments allow UK's Jayplas to keep recycling supply chain at home

December 17, 2014 9:32 am ET

Corby, England-based plastics recycler Jayplas has announced the completion of a new extrusion and printing plant, together with a new packaging...    More

Image

Ecojug trims HDPE from milk jugs

December 17, 2014 8:57 am ET

United Diary Inc. has saved 1.7 million pounds of high density polythylene during the production of 80 million of its new Ecojug milk jug design since...    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events