Recently, President Barack Obama joined leaders from 150 nations in Paris for the COP21 – the United Nations’ conference on climate change. Obama stated that America will do its part to keep the country focused on sustainability and reducing CO2 emissions. A big chunk of that responsibility will continue to fall on America’s automotive industry, which has increasingly taken steps toward creating more fuel efficient vehicles.

For its part, last week, Ford announced a multifaceted plan to help reduce the environmental footprint. That plan includes a big emphasis on the implementation of lightweight composite materials to its vehicles. According to a December 2 press release, Ford engineers are now developing new production processes using low-cost, high‑volume carbon fiber composites to be used in future products.

Working in conjunction with DowAksa, Ford is looking to reduce the energy needed to produce carbon fiber components, cut the cost of raw materials and develop recycling processes. DowAksa brings experience with carbon fiber production, while Ford offers expertise with automotive design and high-volume manufacturing.

“This opportunity builds upon Ford’s current joint development agreement with Dow Chemical and accelerates our timeline to introduce carbon fiber composites into high-volume applications,” said Juergen Wesemann, manager, Vehicle Technologies and Materials, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “This collaboration helps us accelerate our efforts to create lighter automotive-grade composite materials that benefit customers by enabling improved fuel economy without sacrificing strength.”

Ford is also recycling old engines that can be used again with the help of a special Ford-patented plasma coating technology. The process delivers a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared with producing a new engine, requiring much less material. The process that was originally intended to enhance performance models such as the Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350R, the first mass-produced production vehicle with carbon fiber wheels.

“It is just one example of how Ford is looking to reduce its environmental footprint through a range of innovative measures,” said Wesemann.