Ford Motor Co. has a well documented history of using bio-based polymers. But mushrooms? That's the word from Ecovative Design LLC, a Green Island, N.Y.-based company that makes polymers from agricultural waste. The news is all over the environmental blogs this week. This one is reporting that Deborah Mielewski, head of Ford's plastic research department, is interested in using Ecovative's mushroom foam "to replace 30 pounds of each car's petroleum-based foams with more environmentally sensible alternatives." I was surprised to see the story explode in blogland. I had to go back a few days to find the source. It was this press release announcing that Mielewski and Ford research engineer Angela Harris will give presentations at the upcoming BioPlastek 2011 Forum, set for June 27-29 in New York. "Ms. Harris' presentation will outline Ford's R&D process for finding and developing novel bio-based material solutions that meet the rigorous requirements for automotive, highlighting key technical obstacles that must be overcome before widespread usage of these materials takes place," the release said. Ford was the first major automaker in North America to begin using soy foam blends (in the Mustang), and the company has also used natural fiber-reinforced composites. It will be interesting to see just how committed Ford will be to using mushroom-based plastics. For more about Ecovative Design, check out this video. Note that co-founder and CEO Eben Bayer isn't a big fan of polystyrene, and he makes a special effort to call the company's Ecocradle a "polymer," rather than a bio-based plastic.
Just how much does Ford like mushroom-based plastics?
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