Ford Works with USB to Develop Soy-based Materials

John Davis

Ford Motor Company is working with the United Soybean Board to help research, develop and implement soybean-based materials into their products to take the place of petroleum-based materials and improve the sustainability footprint of their operations. At the recent USB Biobased Products Stakeholders Workshop in Dearborn, Michigan, Deb Mielewski, Technical Leader of Plastics Research at Ford, talked about the development of biobased foam being used in every Ford vehicle manufactured in North America. “Automotive foam has to have fantastic compression. It has to rebound back in the field for 15 years under heat and humidity,” she explained.

Mielewski credits Ford’s work with the USB that started about 10 years ago that has helped the company perfect the foam and make other products, including many of the plastics in vehicles, from soybeans. “We have received [about] seven grants from the USB, so it’s been a really strong partnership,” she says. And she’s been pleasantly surprised by how much the board has helped in some of the issues during development. “When we had technical issues, we would come to the table with USB representatives, and they knew more about their crop, [so] they could help us get past those technical hurdles.”

During the workshop, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) even got the chance to make some of the soy-based foam. “That was the first time we actually had someone else make the foam, so we were really excited about it,” Mielewski said.

You can hear more of Cindy’s interview with Deb here: Deb Mielewski, Technical Leader of Plastics Research at Ford

Check out the photo album below and the website as well.

2012 USB Biobased Products Stakeholders Workshop Photos

Audio, Soybean, USB