Ford could replace up to 50% of rubber in vehicles with Guayule shrubs
Cars use a lot ofÂ rubber. For instance, the interior of the Ford Fiesta contains about 3 kg of the material, without including the tires. Most of thatÂ rubberÂ comes from international sources, resulting in higher prices and CO2 emissions.Â Therefore,Â due to theÂ extremeÂ price fluctuations characterizing naturalÂ rubber,Â ranging from $1 to $4 per pound, and a desire to lower each vehicle’s environmental footprint, Ford is searching forÂ a moreÂ sustainableÂ domesticÂ rubberÂ source.Â The company has experimented with:
- Orange oil
- Soybean oil
Guayule, a shrub grown in Arizona, isÂ one of the most promising alternatives, as it is already being used inÂ high-performance gear like wetsuits, medical gloves and more.Â To test the viability of using the plantâ€™s leaves for automotive industry applications, Ford is partnering with Ohio State.
Although additional research must be conducted to determine how muchÂ rubberÂ could be conserved by switching to an alternative source like guayule, Ford estimates that it could be as much as 50 percent, depending on the part of the car. An expert at Ford’s elastomers researchÂ anticipates that the company could have an alternativeÂ rubberÂ prototype within the next year.