Ford and Jose Cuervo Fuel a New Agave-Based Bioplastic

In partnership with tequila brand Jose Cuervo, the Ford Motor Vehicle Company is investigating the use of agave fibres, a byproduct of the tequila making process, to innovate a new type of sustainable bioplastic.

Currently, researchers are examining the heat resistance and durability of this new type of bioplastic and its potential for use not only in vehicle interiors, but also in exterior elements such as storage bins, fuse boxes and wiring harnesses.

The growth cycle of the agave plant is a minimum duration of seven years. After harvesting, the plant is roasted and then ground in order to extract agave juices for distillation into tequila, leaving behind residual agave fibres. Jose Cuervo currently reuses a portion of theses fibres in the form of compost for its farms, as well as a material that local artisans can use to make crafts as well as agave paper. Thisnew partnership with Ford add yet another use for the residual agave fibres.

In addition to exploring a new type of composite material from a more sustainable source, agave-based bioplastics offer a further benefit in that its lightweight properties could reduce the weight of car parts, thus reducing fuel requirements – and by extension the need for petrochemicals.

In addition to exploring agave as a new material for use in their vehicles, Ford has been researching the use of sustainable material in vehicles since2000. Their other material explorations include soy foam, castor oil, wheat straw, kenaf fiber, cellulose, wood coconut fibre and rice hulls.

Ford Senior Technical leader of Fordès sustainability research department explains, ‘There are about 400 pounds of plastic on a typical car. Our job is to find the right place for a green composite like ths to help our impact on the planet. It is work that I’m really proud of, and it could have broad impact across numerous industries.’

Note: All Photos via the Ford Motor Vehicle Company.