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TheStreet Open House

Higher Oil Costs Could Speed Up The Use Of New 'Green' Materials Such As Old U.S. Paper Money In Future Fords

DEARBORN, Mich., April 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

  • The price of petroleum – used to manufacture plastics – is rising, making a stronger business case for finding new sustainable materials for Ford cars and trucks
  • Potential alternatives to petroleum-based products, including old U.S. paper currency retired from service and shredded, could join soybeans, denim, plastic bottles and other materials used in Ford vehicles
  • A prime example is soybean-based foam material, used in seat cushions, backs and head restraints, which saves Ford an estimated 5 million pounds of petroleum annually

Rising oil prices have Ford upping the ante in its push to reduce petroleum dependence and use more sustainable materials – including retired U.S. paper currency – to make parts.

A wide range of alternatives to products now made with petroleum are under review for potential application in Ford vehicles – from shredded retired currency to cellulose from trees, Indian grass, sugar cane, dandelions, corn and coconuts.

"Ford has a long history of developing green technologies because it's the right thing to do from an environmental perspective," said John Viera, Ford's global director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental matters. "Now, finding alternative sources for materials is becoming imperative as petroleum prices continue to rise and traditional, less sustainable materials become more expensive.

"The potential to reuse some of the country's paper currency once it has been taken out of circulation is a great example of the kind of research we are doing," Viera added.

In the early 2000s, when Ford started heavily researching sustainable materials, petroleum was readily available and relatively cheap; a barrel of oil was $16.65. Earlier this year, a barrel hit a high of $109.77.

Adding to the appeal of the new potential resources is that they are so plentiful. For example, 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of retired paper currency are shredded daily – more than 3.6 million pounds annually. The shredded money is either compressed into bricks and landfilled, or burned.

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