Wheat Straw Debuts on 2010 Ford Flex

DN Staff

October 12, 2009

1 Min Read
Wheat Straw Debuts on 2010 Ford Flex

flx10_highlight_sm_boldstyle.pngThe harvest is coming in for Canadian efforts to develop industrial uses for wheat straw. The 2010 Ford Flex uses wheat filler in polypropylene storage bins. The new application continues Ford’s industry-leading drive to use natural materials, as reported by Design News. Use of wheat straw reduced weight 8 to 12 percent compared to fillers previously used for the bin, such as talc or glass. There are some 30 million metric tons of wheat straw waste available in Ontario alone for other uses, according to a report by the chemical engineering department at the University of Waterloo two years ago. The cost of wheat straw is just eight to 15 cents/lb. Researchers had to develop techniques to reduce its moisture absorption and thermal degradation. Parts filled with wheat straw are processed at lower temperatures (about 30F), also resulting in energy savings and reduced cycle times. Wheat straw can only be used for noncosmetic parts since surfaces can be speckled. Other potential uses are bridges and decking. A. Schulman worked on the technology with the University of Waterloo. Tests showed that filler increased flexural modulus but decreased yield strength of the resin. Funding was provided by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as well as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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