Aachen, Germany – Ford is investigating an innovative new wood-plastic compound, known as “liquid wood,” a renewable product with potential for use in vehicle parts.
Ford’s European Research Centre is assessing the product in a three-year project. The compound of wood and plastic prevents water absorption, increasing the material’s durability, and it can be made from untreated wood or wood waste. Ford is experimenting with using the product for trim parts, and for use in the engine compartment for components such as the battery tray. Previous tests have shown that liquid wood can be reprocessed up to five times.
Up until now, liquid wood has only been used for high-quality household terrace building panels, which do not have to be molded. With a high portion of wood, the product’s viscosity makes it unsuitable for conventional injection molding, which is the only economical manufacturing process for the mass production of components such as plastic parts. This is one of the most prominent issues being addressed by the assessment project.
Ford said that the use of renewable resources has a major role in its environmental strategy. Currently, some 290 automotive parts are already derived from renewable resources, such as cotton, wood, flax, hemp, jute fibre and natural rubber.