The 2014 Ford F-150 pickup truck is lighter than ever, with extensive use of high-strength 70,000-psi steel and aluminum, but plastic is also playing a key role in the environmental credentials of the full-size truck, which may return fuel economy as high as 30 mpg. The electrical cowl bracket employed in the vehicle is molded from a rice hull-filled grade of polypropylene (PP). The development was initially reported by PlasticsToday here.
|Electrical cowl brackets get rice treatment.|
The development team worked together to optimize the material for recycled and renewable content. The rice hull loading in the grade is 10%, replacing a 10% talc filler, while the polypropylene itself contains 25% post-consumer recyclate (PCR). Rice hulls were chosen because they are readily available and consistent in composition, rice boasts a fast growing cycle, and rice hulls normally goes to land fill.
The application is cost neutral on a pound per pound basis. No cost is associated with producing the rice hulls as they are a by-product of food processing. Therefore, the cost and energy associated with mining and refining a mineral filler are eliminated. Further, using the rice hulls as fillers avoids land fill costs of this by-product.