TOMAUTOS Fresh of the Vine! Ford and Heinz Collaborate to Make Tomato Car Parts
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Next time you’re wolfing down a bowl of chips dipped on tomato ketchup, you might want to give a thumbs up to the fact, that the some very fine tomato’s died in the making of the tangy red sauce. But then you’ll also want to risk doing double thumbs up and look like a weirdo after knowing that those leftover martyrs will someday join Ford in the making of car parts. While we’re still at a confused stage whether to call those tom-auto parts delicious or simply a beauty of a greater mechanized-sustainable version, you can read a little more about the alliance that will make it all possible.

Ford on Tuesday announced that tomato waste – something that Pittsburgh-based Ketchup Company Heinz can produce in plenitude, inevitably could be utilized as a part of a future Fusion or perhaps an F-150. The tomato fibers may wind up in plastic utilized in wiring brackets or in storage bins that drivers use to hold coins. The ketchup byproducts could help spare on fuel use since the plastic would be lighter than traditional variants. Natural fiber composites additionally have a tendency to produce less greenhouse emissions in the manufacturing process because those are cooked at lower temperatures.

The transaction won't be trading that new auto smell for the warm hearted fragrance of cooked tomatoes, Ms. Lee said. The carmaker has a board of individuals relegated to monitoring odors, a group that sniffs any components going in its vehicles to verify drivers won’t be trapped inside with pungent aromas.

Utilization of plant-based plastics has been developing in numerous commercial ventures as of late. A couple of years ago, Heinz reported a venture with Coca-Cola to place ketchup into containers made partially from sugar cane residue. Coke authorized that technology.

Ford has been working with plant fibers for 10 years, said Ms. Lee, and a year ago presented cellulose fiber-fortified console components and rice structure filled electrical cowl brackets. The organization is likewise working with coconut-based composite materials and reused cotton material for carpeting and seat fabrics.

Ms. Lee said the fact that there's a ton of the stuff was a point to support it, since there's minimal enthusiasm toward creating another procedure for a material that is in short supply.

Researchers at Ford and Heinz are investigating the use of tomato fibers in developing sustainable, composite materials for use in vehicle manufacturing. Specifically, dried tomato skins could become the wiring brackets in a Ford vehicle or the storage bin a Ford customer uses to hold coins and other small objects.

Researchers at Ford and Heinz are investigating the use of tomato fibers in developing sustainable, composite materials for use in vehicle manufacturing. Specifically, dried tomato skins could become the wiring brackets in a Ford vehicle or the storage bin a Ford customer uses to hold coins and other small objects. (Image Credit: Ford Website)

Prior to the tomato waste being utilized, it required to be dried and afterward ground. At that point it was joined with a polypropylene and cooked.

The resulting plastic isn't as solid as some other products. “It can’t replace a structural composite,” said Ms. Lee, but cars and trucks use so many different kinds of plastics that purposes can be found for many different kinds.

“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 percent plant-based plastics,” said Vidhu Nagpal, associate director, packaging research and development for Heinz, in the official announcement Tuesday.

Ms. Lee said the testing methodology will continue. The project could provide a breakthrough, Ford and Heinz said.

"We are exploring whether this food-processing byproduct makes sense for an automotive application," said Ellen Lee, a 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."

If all goes well, tomato fibers could start being part of Ford vehicles within the next couple of years.

Author
Christy Gren is an Industry Specialist Reporter at Industry Leaders Magazine; she enjoys writing about Unicorns, Silicon Valley, Startups, and Business leaders and innovators. Her articles provide an insight about the Power Players in the field of Technology, Auto, Manufacturing, and F&B. Follow Christy Gren on Twitter, Facebook & Google.

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