Michigan, United States — Ford Motor announced a deal with startup Origin Materials aimed at reducing the environmental impact of its vehicles.
This new initiative will try to reduce the amount of fossil fuel-based products Ford vehicles require, rather than focusing on emissions – this will offer a more environmentally friendly option without requiring the switch to electric vehicles.
While Ford, along with many other vehicle manufacturers are spending billions of dollars developing new EV’s, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in making vehicle parts cannot be ignored.
There are many varieties of plastic, foams, and sealers in cars–the majority of which are derived from oil. Ford’s deal with Origin addresses that carbon footprint. Origin Materials makes chemical products that can be further processed into many things from wood-based feedstocks.
The first products the pair will investigate use PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic used in water and soda bottles.
“Ford’s path to carbon neutrality evaluates every part of our operations, including the emissions associated with synthesizing the vast amount of materials we use,” said Debbie Mielewski, a technical fellow at Ford, in a joint news release. “The ability to utilize carbon-negative materials will be a monumental driver in helping achieve our sustainability goals.”
Carbon negative refers to products that remove carbon from the atmosphere. Trees do that while they grow, making it possible for wood-based chemicals such as those Origin makes to potentially be called carbon negative.
The automotive industry has come a long way since producing wood-panelled cars, modelled after horse buggies that came before them. While it’s unlikely we’ll see a return of wooden-wheeled, wicker-bodied vehicles, bodies made from wood-based chemicals could becoming.