Recycled materials and the Ford Escape.
The Ford Motor Company has taken recycling to a whole new level. In this case, its recycling efforts may be right underneath your foot. Literally.
What Ford has done is to use recycled bottles, 25 of them, in the carpeting of its next generation Ford Escape SUV. That vehicle is set to debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show later this month, a vehicle that will be lighter and more efficient than the current Escape and help keep 4 million bottles out of landfills nationwide. The 2013 Ford Escape goes on sale early next year.
Ford is using 25 20-ounce plastic bottles as one of the “ingredients” in its carpeting, polyester fibers that were created from used soda pop bottles. The crunched up bottles are mixed in with other components to make for a carpet that Ford says is more durable and therefore should last longer.
All materials used in Ford vehicles, including carpeting, must pass extensive durability tests. A team of engineers looks for “chalking” during these tests – a sign where fibers degrade and mash together, forming a white residue as they break apart. Chalking, which is also known as dusting, is a telltale sign that a hole is forming in the carpet.
Ford engineers use a device called a Taber 5150, which resembles a record player. Engineers take a carpet sample that is about the size of a DVD and place it in the middle of the machine. The Taber 5150 rotates while a pair of weights rub the sample to simulate accelerated wear. Within 10 to 15 minutes, the engineers can simulate five years of normal use.
Cast foam will also help to limit carpet wear, backing that is useful for reducing road noise and useful for filling in ridges and crevices for a smoother look. The recycled bottle carpeting is supplied by Autoneum and is produced at its plant in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.
The Ford Escape isn’t the first vehicle the automaker has produced that makes use of recycled materials. The seats in the Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan use soy-based foam seat cushions that are covered in recycled fabric. Ford made the switch from polyurethane foam, an oil-based product, to soybean-based foam, a move that has enabled the automaker to reduce fuel consumption and cut carbon emissions. These materials are used in seats found in various Ford and Lincoln products including the Ford F-150 and the Lincoln Navigator.