Ford Motor Company and McDonald’s USA are partnering to convert coffee chaff—the dried skin of the bean that naturally comes off during the roasting process into a durable material to reinforce certain vehicle parts.
By heating the chaff to high temperatures under low oxygen, mixing it with plastic and other additives and turning it into pellets, the material can be formed into various shapes.
The chaff composite meets the quality specifications for parts such as headlamp housings and other interior and under hood components. The resulting components will be about 20% lighter and require up to 25% less energy during the molding process. Heat properties of the chaff component are significantly better than the currently used material, according to Ford. This is the first time Ford has used coffee bean skins to convert into select vehicle parts.
McDonald’s is expected to direct a significant portion of its coffee chaff in North America to Ford to be incorporated into vehicle parts.
The project also involves Varroc Lighting Systems, which supplies the headlamps, and Competitive Green Technologies, the processor of the coffee chaff.
Ford is progressing toward a goal of using recycled and renewable plastics in vehicles globally, with an increasing range of sustainable materials.