Clever usage of recycled materials is becoming the norm this century, and the Ford “Reduce, reuse and recycle” commitment is part of the company’s broader global sustainability strategy for reducing its environmental footprint. What happened when the two concepts once again collided at Ford? Perhaps the oddest-sounding partnership of all: carpet and cylinder head covers.
The efforts by Ford to use renewable materials in its vehicles resulted in the introduction of EcoLon®, a nylon made from 100 percent recycled carpet. The EcoLon material from Wellman Engineering Resins offers an eco-friendly, high-quality alternative to typical cylinder head covers. The cylinder head covers are manufactured by Dana Holding Corporation, and are used on the 3.0-liter Duratec engine in the Ford Fusion and Escape and on the 5.0-liter engine in the Mustang and F-150.
“By working with Wellman and Dana, Ford has found a way to bring green applications to a new, unique location in our vehicles,” said Brett Hinds, Ford Manager, Engine Design. “This single use has made an incredible impact, and we’re continuing to look for ways to expand the use.”
The cover is the first automotive product of its kind manufactured from post-consumer recycled nylon. To repurpose nylon, Wellman grinds used nylon carpeting into fiber and recaptures the material through a patented, proprietary process. The resulting product is a high-quality nylon resin, which Dana then uses to mold into cylinder head covers through its injection-molding process.
In 2010, using EcoLon material saved more than 4.1 million pounds of carpet from landfills, the equivalent of nearly 154 football fields. It also amounted to recycling more than 985,000 yards of carpet and reducing the consumption of more than 430,000 gallons of oil.
“We didn’t have to make compromises for this application,” said Roy Ford, Ford Engine Sealing Supervisor. “With a fixed raw material cost that delivers cost savings compared to oil, along with the green benefit, this application adds to the ways Ford is minimizing our impact on the environment.”
Over the past several years Ford has concentrated on increasing the use of nonmetal recycled and bio-based materials, including soy foam seat cushions, recycled resins for underbody systems, recycled yarns on seat covers and natural-fiber plastic for interior components.
And perhaps the one most likely to work as a conversation-starter at the next party you attend, recycled blue jeans for sound-dampening material.