Ford teams up with McDonald's to build vehicle parts from coffee waste

James Marshall
December 8, 2019

This time they're looking at food waste, specifically: coffee waste. That's what makes the new collaboration between the two giants so unusual, but also incredibly cool.

The automaker is instead, believe it or not, teaming up with McDonalds to turn the restaurant's coffee bean waste into vehicle parts, to help reduce Ford's carbon footprint. Heat properties of the chaff component are significantly better than the now used material, according to Ford.

"The two companies have discovered that coffee bean waste can be transformed into a highly durable material that can be used in automobile parts", it noted. The coffee chaff is heated at high temperatures under low oxygen and mixed with plastic and other additives to be turned into pellets.

The chaff is heated under pressure in a low-oxygen environment, and mixed with other materials to create pellets that can be formed into vehicle components. The resulting components will be about 20 percent lighter and require up to 25 percent less energy during the molding process.

The parts are made of coffee chaff, which is the dried skin of the coffee beans that naturally falls off during the process of roasting them. "They are more durable because the chaff composite can withstand heat better", says Debbie Mielewski, senior technical leader of Ford's sustainability and emerging materials research team. Each headlight housing will using chaffs from approximately 300,000 beans. A Ford news release didn't give exact figures but said a "significant portion" of McDonald's coffee chaff will be reserved for the project.

The automaker also recruited Competitive Green Technologies, a Canadian firm, to process the coffee chaff and Varroc Lighting Systems, an India-based manufacturer. "What about their French fry potato peels?"

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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