Ford Explores Using Tomatoes to Make Cars

Ford and the famous ketchup-maker, Heinz, are partnering up to research the potential uses of the tomato as a sustainable material in automobiles. The project started when Heinz was looking for ways to recycle tomato peels, stems, and seeds from the more than two million tons of tomatoes it uses each year for making ketchup. Now, together with Ford, researchers are looking into dried tomato fibers that can be used to make wiring brackets inside vehicles or storage bins to hold coins and other small objects. “We are exploring whether this food processing byproduct makes sense for an automotive application,” said Ellen Lee, plastics research technical specialist for Ford. “Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact.” While the project is still in the beginning stages, it could provide a major breakthrough for the auto industry. And it helps that Ford is far from a rookie in this field. For two years, Ford has partnered with Heinz, The Coca-Cola Company, Nike Inc. and Procter & Gamble to help develop 100 percent plant-based plastics. A few years ago, Ford began using water bottles to make a seat fabric for use in the Fusion. It has also been able to use coconut-based composite materials for interiors, recycled cotton material for carpets, and soy foam seat cushions and head restraints.
Source: Ford