|Ford cylinder head cover made with EcoLon resin. Click to enlarge.|
Ford is using EcoLon, a nylon resin made from 100% recycled carpet, to make the cylinder head covers on some Ford engines. The EcoLon material is produced by Wellman Engineering Resins; the cylinder head covers are manufactured by Dana Holding Corporation.
The cylinder head covers are used on the 3.0-liter Duratec engine in Ford Fusion and Escape. They can also be found on the 5.0-liter engine, which powers Mustang and F-150. The cover is the first automotive product of its kind manufactured from post-consumer recycled nylon.
By working with Wellman and Dana, Ford has found a way to bring green applications to a new, unique location in our vehicles. This single use has made an incredible impact, and we’re continuing to look for ways to expand the use.—Brett Hinds, Ford manager, engine design
To repurpose nylon, Wellman grinds used nylon carpeting into fiber and recaptures the material through a patented, proprietary process. The resulting product is a high-quality nylon resin, which Dana then uses to mold into cylinder head covers through its injection-molding process.
The EcoLon product line comprises a number of variants, including Glass Reinforced Nylon 6; Glass Reinforced Nylon 66; Impact Modified Nylon 66; Mineral/Glass Reinforced Nylon 6; Mineral/Glass Reinforced Nylon 66; Polypropylene; Unfilled Nylon 6; Unfilled Nylon 66; and Unfilled Nylon 66/6.
EcoLon can be used in a wide range of automotive applications: Engine cooling fan; Exterior mirror back plate; Engine cooling shrouds; Low gloss black mirror Housing; Switch sockets; Wheel trim covers; Air cleaner cover; Blower wheels; Interior ashtray; NVH engine covers; Cam covers; Fastening parts; Cam cover baffle; Steering column switch; Air intake manifold; Sun visor base plate; Carrier gasket; Headlamp fasters; Door handles interior; Corrugated tube clip; Fascia brackets; Radiator end tank drain cock; Door handles exterior (painted); Radiator support bracket; Door handles exterior; Accelerator Pedals; Radiator end tank; HVAC valve door; Front end carrier; Ball bearing cages; Fuel pipe assembly; Oil level indicator; Air cleaner tray; Timing chain cover; Door window guides; Vent window handles; A/C evaporator filter retainers; Sleeve-trans. control selector; Housing-trans. Control selector; Carbon canisters; and Carbon canister brackets.
During 2010, the use of EcoLon saved more than 4.1 million pounds of carpet from landfills. It also amounted to recycling more than 985,000 yards of carpet and reducing the consumption of more than 430,000 gallons of oil.
EcoLon Cylinder Head, Cam, Valve & Rocker Covers are made with EcoLon Mineral/Glass Reinforced Nylon 66. Combining mineral to glass reinforced nylon 66 reduces cost, improves dimensional stability and reduces warpage when compared to standard glass filled nylons while maintaining the desired mechanical properties which include high modulus, strength and HDT, according to Wellman.
20 - 50% combined loadings are typically used in various injection molding grades for applications requiring excellent chemical and heat resistance. The addition of mineral to glass filled nylon reduces differential shrinkage because the mineral disrupts the orientation of the glass fiber resulting in more uniform shrinkage.
Ford’s “Reduce, reuse and recycle” commitment is part of the company’s broader global sustainability strategy to reduce its environmental footprint while at the same time accelerating the development of advanced, fuel-efficient vehicle technologies. Over the past several years Ford has concentrated on increasing the use of nonmetal recycled and bio-based materials, including soy foam seat cushions, recycled resins for underbody systems, recycled yarns on seat covers and natural-fiber plastic for interior components.