Technology

Ford wants to build vehicle parts from Tequila left-overs

Plastic from old Tequila plants? In the future, Ford intends to produce plastics from the waste of the agave plant, from which Tequila is made in Mexico. To do this, Ford has closed a research cooperation with the world’s leading Tequila maker Jose Cuervo.

Tequila manufacturers such as Jose Cuervo know not where with the huge amounts of Agave fiber, which remain in production. Now the car manufacturer Ford and Cuervo believe to have found the solution: both companies have agreed to a research partnership, to win plastic from the fibres. Ford wants to produce vehicle parts from the plastic.

Ford wants to build vehicle parts from Tequila left-overs
The fibers of the agave is apparently suitable for the production of plastics. Initial tests at Ford have shown that. Therefore, the automaker concluded a cooperation with the world’s largest Tequila manufacturer. Photo: Ford

Inside the vehicle, as well as for wiring harnesses, air conditioning and shelves is possible. After initial tests at Ford is confident that the new composite plastic material has a good shelf life and high aesthetic qualities.

Ford uses many plants as raw materials and CO2

“We want to reduce our impact at Ford on the environment”, said Debbie Mielewski, senior technical leader, sustainability research department at Ford. “As a leading company in the field of sustainability we develop new technologies, materials and fibers from waste efficiently and thus the use of petroleum-based products if possible to reduce and to make our vehicles more easily, to save fuel.”

Tequila Plastic Parts
Ford Motor Company is teaming up with Jose Cuervo® to explore the use of the tequila producer’s agave plant byproduct to develop more sustainable bioplastics to employ in Ford vehicles. If you don’t know it…: this is a plastic part that is from Agave fibers. Photo: Ford

16 years ago, Ford began to explore the use of sustainable materials in vehicle construction. Currently a total of eight different biomaterials in Ford models are used: soy foam, castor oil, wheat straw, kenaf fibers, cellulose, wood, coconut fibre and bowls of grain of rice. “A car nowadays has almost 200 kilograms in plastic parts”, ad Mielewski.

“Our task is to find a suitable use for organic materials such as Agave fiber, to relieve the environment makes sense.”

More recently, Ford wants to make even foam from CO2. The greenhouse gas namely very well suited as raw material and carbon replacement. So far, foam from the raw material is produced oil, in the future from CO2. The procedure had recently introduced Ford.

Agave must grow seven years

It takes a little while to a tequila Agave plant has been upgraded. The growth cycle of Agave stretches over at least seven years. Then the components of the plant are roasted, then after harvesting the vegetable juices are extracted and distilled.

The Jose Cuervo’s still family-run company has a lot of expertise in the distillation of Tequila, after all, be passed experience, craftsmanship and the recipes from generation to generation since 1795.

Tequila
Agave harvested in Mexico for the tequila maker Jose Cuervo: be cut off the leaves of the agave, the root remains, called Cabeza or Piña. It contains the thick, sweet Agave juice obtained from the well Tequila. Out of the waste materials for the production of Tequila, Ford wants to now produce plastics to use them in the Interior of Ford models. Photo: Ford

But for a meaningful use of waste from the manufacture of Tequila they had so far no good ideas at Jose Cuervo. The company uses a small portion of the remaining Agave fibers as compost for the Algavefarmen. A few fibers use local craftsmen for the production of art objects or paper. That was it.

“We cultivate millions of Agave plants”

“We are proud to be working with Ford by Jose Cuervo, because we want to expand our plan for a sustainable use of the agave,” said Sonja Espinola, Director of heritage with Cuervo. “We have become the world’s leading producers of tequila and we cultivate millions of Agave plants. The cooperation of two major companies offers exciting prospects for the development of innovative and environmentally friendly materials.”

5 billion tons a year of biomass

Around the globe, some 5 billion metric tons of biomass in the form of waste and agricultural by-products are created. Little of it is used. Although biomass could be recycled often quite simple and inexpensive, the potential for the use are not long ago been exhausted. The cooperation between Ford and Jose Cuervo is a good approach.