From Coffee Waste to Car Parts Ford’s Next Innovation

December 2019 | BlogNews

A Caffeine Boost for your Car

Ford Motor Company and McDonald’s will soon be giving vehicles a caffeine boost by using part the waste part of the coffee bean in vehicle parts such as headlamp housings.

A Caffeine Boost for your Car

Ford Motor Company and McDonald’s will soon be giving vehicles a caffeine boost by using part the waste part of the coffee bean in vehicle parts such as headlamp housing.

The companies found that chaff can be converted into a durable material to reinforce certain vehicle parts. By heating the chaff to high temperatures under low oxygen, mixing it with plastic and other additives and turning it into pellets, the material can be formed into various shapes.

These changes won't just be a greener alternative but will also help with car performance, with the resulting components be about 20% lighter and requiring up to 25% less energy to produce.

“McDonald’s commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team. “This has been a priority for Ford for over 20 years, and this is an example of jump starting the closed-loop economy, where different industries work together and exchange materials that otherwise would be side or waste products.”

Ford is of course no stanger to the use sustainible means to make plastics within it's vehicles, dating back to 1942 when Henry Ford and Gearge Washington Carver worked on experimental progjects that say the use of soybeans in the creation of plastics and rubbers to help prevent against World War II era shortages.

Like McDonald’s, Ford is committed to minimizing waste and we’re always looking for innovative ways to further that goal,” said Ian Olson, senior director, global sustainability, McDonald’s. “By finding a way to use coffee chaff as a resource, we are elevating how companies together can increase participation in the closed-loop economy.”

The collaboration with Ford and McDonald’s is the latest example of the innovative approaches both companies take to product and environmental stewardship. The project also involves Varroc Lighting Systems, which supplies the headlamps, and Competitive Green Technologies, the processor of the coffee chaff.

he idea was born — and patented — out of the University of Guelph, where researchers were looking for organic alternatives for polymers used in plastics. Coffee bean skins, like they do during the roasting process, rose to the top and were identified as one of the most useful and scalable materials.

That’s where Competitive Green Technologies, which is headquartered in nearby Waterloo but has a manufacturing plant in Leamington, Ont., stepped in, providing the technology to turn the coffee bean skins into resin that can be used in the auto industry.