DEARBORN, Mich. (July 19, 2016) — Ford Motor Co. is teaming up with the distiller of Jose Cuervo to explore the use of the tequila producer's agave plant byproduct to develop more sustainable bioplastics for use in Ford vehicles.
Dearborn-based Ford and the tequila maker are testing the bioplastic for use in vehicle interior and exterior components such as wiring harnesses, HVAC units and storage bins. Initial assessments suggest the material holds great promise due to its durability and aesthetic qualities, according to the companies. Success in developing a sustainable composite could reduce vehicle weight and lower energy consumption, they said in a press release, while paring the use of petrochemicals and the impact of vehicle production on the environment.
“At Ford, we aim to reduce our impact on the environment,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability research department. “As a leader in the sustainability space, we are developing new technologies to efficiently employ discarded materials and fibers, while potentially reducing the use of petrochemicals and light-weighting our vehicles for desired fuel economy.”
The growth cycle of the agave plant is a minimum seven-year process. Once harvested, the heart of the plant is roasted before grinding and extracting its juices for distillation. Jose Cuervo uses a portion of the remaining agave fibers as compost for its farms, and local artisans make crafts and agave paper from the remnants.
Now, as part of Jose Cuervo's broader sustainability plan, the company is joining forces with the auto maker to develop a new way to use its remnant fibers.