Manufacturing Savvy

Will My Car Bumpers Be Made of Mushrooms?

They could be if the collaboration between Ford and Ecovative Design works out.

Ecovative Design, which was named as a 2011 Technology Pioneer by the World Forum, creates packaging that is made from seek husk and mushroom roots. Steelcase is currently using this packaging to ship products. EcoCradle is used just like synthetic foams but takes less energy to produce.

Interested in how the mushrooms figure into this? Mycelium, which is the strong root system of mushrooms, can knit together agricultural by-products such as corns and oat husks. (CNN Money explained this in an article about the founders of this company.)

The packaging material which results when these ingredients are cooked and dried is a waterproof foal solid that is fireproof. As a bonus it will decompose one month after it's buried in the soil.

So how we go from mushrooms to Ford? Well Ford is already using soy-based foam for its seat cushions. And the company is trying to replace about 30 pounds of petroleum-based foam per car with eco-friendly alternatives. So turning mushrooms into automotive bumpers, side doors and dashboards sounds like a good idea to them.

Ford is very serious about the environmental impact of its cars. Its 2011 Ford Explorer is 85% recyclable. The reinvented SUV uses bio foam and recycled fabric in its interior, as well as recycled steel in select exterior parts.

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