Ford Explorer SUV to sport soy seats
DEARBORN, MICH. Ford Motor Co. will use a soybean urethane foam blend in seats for the next generation of its Explorer sport utility vehicle, and claims it will use soy in nearly 100 percent of its vehicle fleet by the end of 2010.
The next-generation Explorer hits the roads later this year. Lear Corp., of Southfield, Mich., is making the seats.
Dearborn-based Ford was the first major carmaker to begin using soy urethane blends, beginning with the Mustang in 2007. It now uses blends with at least 5 percent soybean oil in seats, seat backs, headliners and other interior parts. Ford estimates that the blend helps it cut annual petroleum use by 3 million pounds. Lear has worked with Ford to improve soy foam and develop commercial applications since 2004.
Ford also has used natural fibers in structural plastics and has experimented with corn-based polylactic acid resin and other bio-based materials.
Soy foam is just the tip of the iceberg in the development of vehicle materials from natural resources, said Ford polymer technical leader Debbie Mielewski, in a June 23 news release. We have to entertain the thought of bio-replacement in baby steps, looking at every aspect of a car that could be green.
Huntington plans for foam plant closing
JEANNETTE, PA. Although it has filed a notice of intent to close its Brockway, Pa., plant, packaging molder Huntington Foam Corp. hopes to keep the site open, a top official said.
Jeannette-based Huntington recently filed the notice in Pennsylvania under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act with an effective date of Dec. 1, 2010. The notification covers 21 of about 40 workers at the plant, President Gary McLaughlin said June 24 by phone.
He said Huntington's move was triggered by the impending July 1 closure of one of its biggest customers, a glass bottling plant in Brockway owned by Owens-Illinois Inc. of Perrysburg, Ohio. That shutdown will put 420 O-I employees out of work.
We're making plans to protect some of our employees if we have to make some decisions that we don't want to have to make, McLaughlin said. We're still open and we have plenty of customers up that way we're hoping that other business will make up for the loss of [the O-I] packaging.
Huntington also operates plants in Arkansas, Michigan and Mexico. The firm processes expanded polystyrene, Arcel-brand polyethylene/PS copolymer, PE and polypropylene.
European auto supplier mulls Ga. site
ELBERTON, GA. Economic development officials in Elberton hope to finalize an agreement soon with a European plastic molder looking to add a plant in the region.
The Development Authority of Elbert County, Elberton and Bowman, voted June 23 to buy a $2 million, 130,000-square-foot building between Elberton and Athens, Ga., that would house the company an auto supplier. Officials said they will not release details even the molder's name until the group receives the firm's final authorization for the site, said Anna Jones, the development group's executive director.
Elbert County is in northern Georgia, near the South Carolina border. The Southeast has seen an increase in auto assembly plants from European and Asian automakers.
Evonik Cyro phasing out cell-cast line
PARSIPPANY, N.J. Evonik Cyro LLC is phasing out a cast acrylic sheet production line in Sanford, Maine, in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company announced that it will source cell-cast material for the North American market from its operations in Germany, Austria and China.
The move will eliminate 30 jobs in Sanford.
We remain fully committed to the North American cell-cast market, and by closing this production line and reducing the complexity of our manufacturing operation we will be able to focus our resources more efficiently and continue to meet the needs of our customers, President John Rolando said in a news release. The Sanford site will continue to make extruded acrylic sheet and molding compounds.
While we regret the need to close this production line, we are working hard to minimize the impact on employees, said Drew Scott, plant manager.
Cell-cast material is used in applications such as museum display cases, framing, retail displays, aquariums and signage.
Parsippany-based Evonik Cyro is a unit of Evonik Degussa Corp.
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