The 2014 Ford F-150. Photo courtesy Ford Motor Co.

The 2014 Ford F-150. Photo courtesy Ford Motor Co.

Ford is using a number of sustainable materials in its 2014-MY F-150 pickup truck, from rice hulls used to reinforce the plastic in an electrical harness in the vehicle to soybeans and recycled cotton.

The company said the rice hills are sourced from farms in Arkansas and will replace a talc-based reinforcement used in the electrical harness in the 2014 F-150.

“We developed this resin specifically for Ford over the last three years, working with the automaker closely, including in all phases of material qualification,” said David Preston, director of business development for RheTech. “The whole process has been a rewarding success for both Ford and RheTech, which can add yet another natural-fiber based product to our RheVision line.”

Ford is using the recycled cotton as carpet insulation and as a sound damping material, and the automaker noted that every 2014 F-150 has enough recycled cotton in it to make 10 pairs of jeans. Next, the company uses soybeans to make seat cushions, seat backs, and head restraints in the F-150. Recycled carpet appears in some cylinder head covers, as it’s used to make EcoLon, a nylon resin. Recycled tires show up in shields and underbody covers on the F-150. Recycled plastic soda and water bottles are turned into a lightweight fiber that’s used to make F-150 wheel liners and shields. Lastly, Ford uses recycled post-industrial plastics in interior finish panels, for example around the radio and climate controls.

Ford said its researchers in Dearborn are continually looking for sustainable materials that can be used in the automaker’s vehicles. To make the cut at Ford, though, components made from sustainable materials must perform as well or better than other materials the company would normally use in production. The company said the rice hull material, noted above, passed all of its product tests.

Ford added that the available 3.5L EcoBoost engine delivers fuel-economy gains of up to 20 percent and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 15 percent. Ford also reiterated, as part of its focus on sustainability, that the 2014 F-150 equipped with the 3.7L engine will be available with a gaseous prep package.