As carbon dioxide has emerged as a huge environmental issue, Ford researchers look to nature for inspiration in tackling the problem.

Soy foam, coconut fiber, and recycled T-shirts are just a few of the environmentally friendly materials Ford has been employing in vehicle production – and within five years, plastics and foams created from sequestered carbon dioxide will join them.

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Similar to how plants synthesize carbon dioxide into fuel, Ford is planning to recapture carbon dioxide and synthesize it into something useful – durable foams and plastics that we expect to use in seating and underhood applications. That means your next cup holder might just be the product of this repurposing process. These foams could reduce petroleum use by more than 600 million pounds each year – that’s a lot of petroleum.

“Ford is working aggressively to lower its environmental impact by reducing its use of petroleum-based plastic and foam,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader of sustainability. “This technology is exciting because it is contributing to solving a seemingly insurmountable problem – climate change. We are thrilled to be leading the charge toward reducing carbon emissions and the effects of climate change.”

We are hopeful that our efforts to go further for the environment will have a long-lasting impact in reducing the impacts of automobile manufacturing on the planet. We plan to continue developing other materials using captured carbon to further reduce the need for fossil fuel-based plastics.