Ford is brewing up a new kind of plastic.
The automaker has teamed up with McDonald’s to use the dried coffee bean skins, or chaff, that is typically discarded as waste during the roasting process to create car parts that are lighter and stronger than the ones they replace.
Ford senior materials research scientist Debbie Mielewski says the chaff is blended with polypropylene and replaces talc in the plastic, leading to a 20 percent reduction in weight along with eliminating the need for the mined mineral. It was developed in partnership with Competitive Green Technologies.
The material is also stronger at high temperatures and can maintain its integrity up to 150 degrees Celsius, compared to around 110 degrees for the talc-based polymer.
Its first production application will be in headlight housings built by supplier Varroc Lighting Systems for the Lincoln Continental sedan, which will make the switch in 2020.
Mielewski says there are millions of pounds of the chaff available annually and that the plastic will soon be expanded to additional vehicles, first in various parts subjected to high heat, including battery trays, engine covers and other underhood components.
She also notes that, for better or worse, the coffee odor is removed during processing so your car won’t smell like a freshly brewed cup.
Unless you pick one up on the way to work.