Ford and McDonald’s Collaborate to Convert Coffee Bean Skin into Car Parts

Automotive innovation isn’t just about vehicle electrification, self-driving cars, and connected vehicles. Those might be the big-ticket items but innovation abounds everywhere. Take this news, for example. Ford Motor Company and McDonald’s USA will soon be giving vehicles a caffeine boost by using the dried skin of a coffee been, known as chaff, to create a material that can be used to create some vehicle components.

According to Ford, every year, millions of pounds of coffee chaff naturally comes off during the roasting process and in partnership with McDonald’s, the company found chaff can be converted into a durable material to reinforce certain vehicle parts. By heating the chaff to high temperatures under low oxygen, mixing it with plastic and other additives and turning it into pellets, the material can be formed into various shapes.

The chaff composite apparently meets the quality specifications for parts like headlamp housings and other interior and under hood components. The resulting components are claimed to be about 20 per cent lighter and require up to 25 percent less energy during the molding process. Heat properties of the chaff component are significantly better than the currently used material, according to Ford.

“McDonald’s commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team. “This has been a priority for Ford for over 20 years, and this is an example of jump starting the closed-loop economy, where different industries work together and exchange materials that otherwise would be side or waste products.”

McDonald’s and Ford say they plan to continue exploring ways to collaboratively use waste as a resource, while furthering their sustainability goals.

Source: Motor Trader E-Magazine (Dec 2019/Jan 2020)

19 Dec 2019

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