Returning to Our Roots: Inventing the Bio–based Vehicle at Ford
Thursday, 31 Mar 2016 at 4:00 pm – Alliant Energy-Lee Liu Auditorium, Howe HallDeborah Mielewski is the Senior Technical Leader of Sustainable Materials and Plastics Research at Ford Motor Company. She has worked at Ford Research in automotive paints, polymer processing and materials development and initiated their biomaterials program in 2001. Mielewski's team was the first to demonstrate soy-based foam that met all the requirements for automotive seating. The group continues to pioneer the development of sustainable plastic materials that meet stringent automotive requirements, including natural fiber reinforced plastics and polymer resins made from renewable feed stocks. Mielewski received her PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and has worked at Ford for twenty-eight years. She has been featured in NOVA's Making Things series and has been honored with such awards as the R&D100 and American Chemical Society's Industrial Innovation Award.
Ford Biomaterials Research Program
The Ford biomaterials research program was initiated in 2001, and the group was the first to demonstrate soy-based foam that met all the requirements for automotive seating. Ford and Lear launched soy-based foam on the 2008 Mustang, and soy seat cushions and backs have now found their way into every Ford North American built vehicle. Bio-based foams currently reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 25 million pounds and reduce petroleum dependence by over 5 million pounds annually. The biomaterials research team continues to pioneer the development of sustainable plastic materials that meet stringent automotive requirements, including natural fiber reinforced plastics and polymer resins made from renewable feed stocks. Ford currently has 8 renewable materials in production vehicles, making them a leader in automotive. Ford scientists are continuing to search for innovative and creative bio-technologies that can reduce our dependence on petroleum, create new markets for agricultural products and additional revenue streams for farmers, as well as reduce vehicle weight, which results in improved fuel efficiency and lower vehicle emissions. This past year, we have begun investigating cellulose nanofibers (CNF, CNC, cellulose filaments) because of their larger surface area, greater aspect ratio and fascinating properties. New materials such as graphene can provide novel, lightweight and green composites for future automobiles.
- Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering
- Bioeconomy Institute
- Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites
- Center for Crop Utilization Research
- Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government)
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