An unlikely partnership between auto-maker Ford and Tequila-producer Jose Cuervo has borne unlikely fruits.
The US firm is championing sustainability by using agave fruit by-product from the tequila production process to create a bioplastic for use in its cars – with plastic making up on average around 400 pounds of weight in its each motor.
Ford researchers are testing the material’s durability and heat resistance for potential use in vehicle interior and exterior components such as wiring harnesses and storage bins.
Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability research department, said: “At Ford, we aim to reduce our impact on the environment, as a leader in the sustainability space, we are developing new technologies to efficiently employ discarded materials and fibers, while potentially reducing the use of petrochemicals and light-weighting our vehicles for desired fuel economy.”
Agave takes seven full years to grow, the heart of the plant is roasted and it’s drained of juices that are used in the tequila. The leftover fibres are used as compost and, now, delivered to Ford for research.
Sonia Espinola, director of heritage for Cuervo Foundation and master tequilera, said: “Jose Cuervo is proud to be working with Ford to further develop our agave sustainability plan.
“We could never have imagined the hundreds of agave plants we were cultivating as a small family business would eventually multiply to millions. This collaboration brings two great companies together to develop innovative, earth-conscious materials.”
Ford claims to use eight sustainable products in its cars including soy foam, castor oil, wheat straw, kenaf fiber, cellulose, wood, coconut fiber and rice hulls.