Tequila plants and car tech­nolo­gies

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - MOTORS -

FORD Mo­tor Com­pany is team­ing up with Jose Cuervo® to ex­plore the use of the tequila pro­ducer’s agave plant by-prod­uct to de­velop more sus­tain­able bio­plas­tics for use in Ford ve­hi­cles.

Ford and Jose Cuervo are test­ing the bio­plas­tic for use in ve­hi­cle in­te­rior and ex­te­rior com­po­nents such as wiring har­nesses, heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion and air con­di­tion­ing (HVAC) units and stor­age bins. Ini­tial as­sess­ments sug­gest the ma­te­rial holds great prom­ise due to its dura­bil­ity and aes­thetic qual­i­ties. Suc­cess in de­vel­op­ing a sus­tain­able com­pos­ite could re­duce ve­hi­cle weight and lower en­ergy con­sump­tion, while par­ing the use of petro­chem­i­cals and the im­pact of ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion on the en­vi­ron­ment.

“At Ford, we aim to re­duce our im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment,” said Deb­bie Mielewski, Ford se­nior tech­ni­cal leader, sus­tain­abil­ity re­search de­part­ment. “As a leader in the sus­tain­abil­ity space, we are de­vel­op­ing new tech­nolo­gies to ef­fi­ciently em­ploy dis­carded ma­te­ri­als and fi­bres, while po­ten­tially re­duc­ing the use of petro­chem­i­cals and light-weight­ing our ve­hi­cles for de­sired fuel econ­omy.”

The growth cy­cle of the agave plant is a min­i­mum seven-year process. Once har­vested, the heart of the plant is roasted, be­fore grind­ing and ex­tract­ing its juices for dis­til­la­tion. Jose Cuervo uses a por­tion of the re­main­ing agave fi­bres as com­post for its farms, and lo­cal ar­ti­sans make crafts and agave pa­per from the rem­nants.

Now, as part of Jose Cuervo’s broader sus­tain­abil­ity plan, the tequila maker is join­ing forces with the au­tomaker to de­velop a new way to use its rem­nant fi­bres.

“Jose Cuervo is proud to be work­ing with Ford to fur­ther de­velop our agave sus­tain­abil­ity plan,” said So­nia Espinola, direc­tor of her­itage for Cuervo Foun­da­tion and master tequi­l­era.

“As the world’s No. 1-sell­ing tequila, 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.”

Like Ford, Jose Cuervo is familyowned and op­er­ated. Founded in 1795, it has been mak­ing tequila for more than 220 years with the same ex­pe­ri­ence, crafts­man­ship and recipes that have been handed down gen­er­a­tion through gen­er­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme, 5 bil­lion met­ric tons of agri­cul­tural biomass waste is pro­duced an­nu­ally. A by-prod­uct of agri­cul­ture, the sup­ply of ma­te­ri­als is abun­dant and of­ten un­der­utilised. The ma­te­ri­als can be rel­a­tively low cost, and can help man­u­fac­tur­ers to off­set the use of glass fi­bres and talc for more sus­tain­able, light­weight prod­ucts.

Ford al­ready has ex­pe­ri­ence us­ing agave fi­bres, fol­low­ing a pro­to­type glove box us­ing sisal, a fi­bre from a spe­cific type of agave.With this project Ford is go­ing a step fur­ther by us­ing sus­tain­able sourc­ing of the rem­nant ma­te­rial.

“There are about 400 pounds [181kg] of plas­tic on a typ­i­cal car,” said Mielewksi. “Our job is to find the right place for a green com­pos­ite like this to help our im­pact on the planet. It is work that I’m re­ally proud of, and it could have broad im­pact across nu­mer­ous in­dus­tries.”

Re­search: Ford and Jose Cuervo are test­ing rem­nant fi­bres from the agave plant

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