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Ford, Lear to Produce Soy-Based Seat Foam

12 July 2007

Ford and Lear Corporation next month will begin the production of soy-based foam for seat backs and seat cushions. The first application will be in the 2008 model year Ford Mustang.

Ford was the first automaker to demonstrate that soy-based polyols could be used at high percentage levels to make foam capable of meeting or exceeding automotive requirements. In 2004, Ford and Lear formed a partnership to commercialize soy-foam applications, with initial work concentrating on the molding of headrest and armrest components.

The environmental advantages of the soy-foam include: a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when compared to current petroleum-based material, lower energy required to produce the material, up to 24% renewable content, and a reduction of dependence on volatile energy markets.

In October 2006, scientists at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center announced they had formulated the chemistry to replace 40% of the standard petroleum-based polyol with a soy-derived material. (Earlier post.)

In January 2007, Johnson Controls announced that it had developed foam pads for automotive seatbacks and cushions consisting of 5% soy-based products and 95% polyurethane. The soy-based seat systems will appear in a number of model year 2008 production vehicles. (Earlier post.)

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