Print 16 comment(s) - last by FaaR.. on Jun 13 at 3:48 PM

  (Source: Heinz Foods)
Tomato fibers will be used to make bio-based plastics

As the cost of fossil fuels rises, it's become increasingly common to see plant-based or recycled materials used in the automotive industry.  Back in 2008 at the North American International Auto Show, Honda Motor Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7267) was showing off seat cushion foams it had made from corn byproducts.   General Motors Comp.'s (GM) fleet today uses between 5 and 10 percent recycled plastics.
Now Ford Motor Comp. (F) is expanding on an intriguing partnership it hopes will set it apart from its rivals' efforts.  It's announced a partnership with the Pittsburgh, Penn.-based H. J. Heinz Company to make use of dried tomato fibers in its upcoming vehicles.
Explains Ford in a press release:

Researchers at Ford and Heinz are investigating the use of tomato fibers in developing sustainable, composite materials for use in vehicle manufacturing. Specifically, dried tomato skins could become the wiring brackets in a Ford vehicle or the storage bin a Ford customer uses to hold coins and other small objects.

Heinz is estimated to be America's #1 ketchup maker, with more than 50 percent market share.  Annually the company boasts:
  • 2 million tons of tomatoes used annually to make ketchup
  • 250 million pounds of ketchup shipped annually to the U.S. (2006)
  • ~570 million pounds of ketchup shipped annually worldwide
  • 650 million bottles of ketchup sold annually
  • 11 billion single-serve packets of ketchup shipped annually
All those tomatoes makes a whole lot of ketchup, but it also adds up to a lot of waste byproduct.  Heinz typically discards the stems, seeds, and peels during the ketchup-making process.

Heinz Ketchup
Found in 1869, Heinz today sells its ketchup in 200 countries and territories. [Image Source: AP]

This is not the pair's first tie-up.  Ford and Heinz have been working together with The Coca-Cola Comp. (KO), Nike Inc. (NKE), and The Procter & Gamble Comp. (PG) to come up with biodegradable plastics made from the compounds in tomato waste.

Vidhu Nagpal, an associate director of packaging and R&D at Heinz, comments about the efforts to turn his company's waste into valuable plastics:

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% plant-based plastics.

Ellen Lee, a plastics researcher at Ford adds:

We are exploring whether this food processing byproduct makes sense for an automotive application.  Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact.

Ford F-150
Ford vehicles, like the 2015 F-150 truck feature a variety of bio-based materials.

Ford currently offers eight "bio-based" materials in its production vehicles.  These include:
  • rice hulls as a filler for electrical cowl brackets
  • cellulose from timber industry for console plastic reinforcement
  • recycled cotton for seat and floor fabrics
  • soy foams for seats and head restraints
  • coconut-based composite materials
Ford is also eyeing using dandelions to produce some of the rubber in its vehicles.  It should be interesting to see how soon these tomato-plastics show good enough cost and performance to make their way into actual vehicles.

Source: Ford

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Using foodstuff for cars is old news
By kep55 on 6/11/2014 6:31:48 PM , Rating: 5
Back in the 30s Henry Ford experimented with using soybeans to build a car. Most of the plastics and interior were made from soybean based product. I guess Heinz decided to play catch-up.

RE: Using foodstuff for cars is old news
By mikemn on 6/11/2014 7:55:00 PM , Rating: 5
Dont you mean Heinz decided to play Ketchup?

RE: Using foodstuff for cars is old news
By teldar on 6/11/2014 10:23:50 PM , Rating: 2
I think he said exactly what he meant. It's a homophone. Two words that are spelled differently but sound the same.

RE: Using foodstuff for cars is old news
By Manch on 6/12/2014 6:13:06 AM , Rating: 1
In Arnolds voice "IT'S NOT A HOMOPHONE!!!"

Couldnt help yourself could you. Just had to go and try to go and piss in his cheerios...

Since we are urinating in peoples breafast bowls....

They sound similar, not the same so they are not homophones.

write & right are homophones-sound the same(not similar)spelled diff, diff meaning

Lead & Lead are homonyms-sound diff, spelled the same, diff meaning

Left & Left are homonyms(both homograph & homophone)-sound and spelled the same, diff meaning

catch-up & ketchup rhyme and you could use the term assonance which describes words with relatively close pronunciation of the vowels.

By Manch on 6/12/2014 7:05:49 AM , Rating: 2

lead & Lead - homograph

edit button DT?

By FaaR on 6/13/2014 3:48:27 PM , Rating: 3
You can have new Ford Ketchup car in any color - as long as it's red!

By GotThumbs on 6/11/2014 6:21:22 PM , Rating: 3
Specifically, dried tomato skins could become the wiring brackets

I just had a co-worker tell me how her new Honda Accord had wires chewed by mice who were attracted to the wire ties/loom which is comprised of some food by-product, while her car was parked for about week while she was on a camping trip.

Maybe people need to keep in mind that mother nature has rodents who love to chew.

By Alexvrb on 6/11/2014 10:08:32 PM , Rating: 3
To be fair rodents will chew wires/hoses/lines/etc on vehicles that are entirely comprised of conventional (non-plant-derived) materials. Typically on vehicles that have sat for a while on their turf. So I don't know that the source materials really had much of an impact.

By Gondor on 6/12/2014 4:06:04 AM , Rating: 2
Ah, but the "conventional" (petroleum-based) materials are just as much "plant-derived" as these new composites ;-)

By Imaginer on 6/12/2014 1:38:05 PM , Rating: 2
So, rodents like vintage dating and age in their options just like some people like age in their fine wine?

Either way, it is definitely another way of reusing fibers that otherwise would go to composting. If there is excess for composting to upkeep soil conditions, then those fibers definitely can see use elsewhere (ala wood debris, sawdust, etc for MDF).

By Alexvrb on 6/12/2014 9:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
Now you're just being silly. Petroleum is dino juice. Duh.

By ctodd on 6/11/2014 10:16:28 PM , Rating: 2
I thought Ford already made biodegradable vehicles! I had a Ford Focus where every rubber component on the vehicle dry-rotted and fell apart within 6 years! One day I had water leak into the cabin after using the rear windshield wiper.

RE: Ha!
By Dukeajuke on 6/12/2014 12:18:17 PM , Rating: 2
Between the years 1978 - 1991, all American cars were biodegradable. Which is why you almost never see any of them around anymore.

By Bad-Karma on 6/11/2014 3:16:01 PM , Rating: 3
"Would you want Ketchup with your order?" No thanks, my cup holder is from Heinz.

Riced Out.
By Voldenuit on 6/11/2014 5:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
My next car will be a ricer.

Please dont tell me...
By CaedenV on 6/12/2014 12:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
Next we will start seeing cars come out in colors like 'tomato red' 'rice white' 'dandylion yellow' 'celary green' etc.

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