Ford and Heinz to create tomato-based auto parts

Ford have enlisted the Heinz food company to help find materials for the cars of the future.

The carmaker is researching the use of tomato fibres to develop a more sustainable composite material for car manufacturing in conjunction with the ketchup giant.

Ford to use dried tomato skins

According to the companies, dried tomato skins could become wiring brackets, a storage bin for coins and other small items in a vehicle and Ford’s researchers are currently testing the material’s durability.

Ford and Heinz also claim that success in developing a new more sustainable composite could reduce the use of petrochemicals and fossil fuels in manufacturing and thereby lessen the impact of vehicles on the environment.

This is the latest technological announcement from the Michigan-based carmaker, who in the past week or two have also released details of their new breakthrough technology including their new Adaptive Steering technology, as well as a new lightweight Mondeo concept

Ellen Lee, Ford’s plastic research technical specialist said: “We are exploring whether this food-processing by-product 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, Coca-Cola, Nike and Procter  Gamble to create new plastic

In addition to Heinz, Ford has also collaborated with a range of companies including the Coca-Cola Company, Nike and Procter & Gamble to try and develop a 100 per cent plant-based plastic that could be used to make everything from fabric to packaging and with a lower impact on the environment than traditional petroleum-based plastics that are currently in use.

Recently, Ford has increased its use of recycled non-metal and bio-based materials with the inclusion of cellulose fibre-reinforced console components and rice hull-filled electrical cowl brackets introduced in the last year.

As well as the dried-tomato material, Ford already have a total of eight other materials currently being produced for its ‘bio-based’ portfolio, including composite materials made from coconuts, recycled cotton material for carpeting and seat fabrics, as well as soy-based foam seat cushions and head restraints.

The company’s commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle is part of their global sustainability strategy to make an effort to lessen their environmental footprint while accelerating the development of fuel-efficient vehicle technology worldwide.

At Heinz, researchers have also been aiming to do the same and have been busy looking for innovative ways to recycle and repurpose peels, stems and seeds from the more than two million tonnes of tomatoes that the company uses annually to produce its best-selling product, Heinz Ketchup.

Vidhu Nagpal, associate director, packaging Research and development for Heinz said: “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 per cent plant-based plastics.”