The succulent plant agave is perhaps best-known for its sweet nectar and its use in the production of tequila, but Ford Motor Company and tequila-producer Jose Cuervo have teamed up to explore the possibility of another use: manufacturing car parts.
As part of a broader Ford initiative to seek out innovative and eco-conscious new materials for vehicle production, the automaker is looking into the possibility of using Jose Cuervo’s agave plant byproduct in order to create practical, sustainable bioplastics which can be formed into everything from wiring harnesses, to HVAC units, to storage bins. Ford says that bioplastics made from agave fibers left over from the tequila production process hold promise due to their durability and aesthetic properties.
A working agave-based bioplastic could also help to reduce energy consumption and lower vehicle weight.
Tequila production involves harvesting and roasting the heart of the agave plant, grinding it, and extracting the juices for fermentation and distillation. Some of the plant fibers left after the grinding process are used as compost for Jose Cuervo’s own farming operations, while some are sent to local artisans for use in agave paper and other products. In the future, some quantity of the tequila-producer’s leftover fibers could end up at Ford, working their way into new production vehicles.
“At Ford, we aim to reduce our impact on the environment,” says Ford’s Senior Technical Leader of Sustainability Research, Debbie Mielewski. “As a leader in the sustainability space, we are developing new technologies to efficiently employ discarded materials and fibers, while potentially reducing the use of petrochemicals and light-weighting our vehicles for desired fuel economy.”
If we had to guess, we’d say it’s unlikely that putting your mouth all over parts of your new Ford’s interior will ever get you drunk.