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Ford looks to geckos to boost the recyclability of its cars

November 12, 2015

Ford looks to geckos to boost the recyclability of its cars

Greg Harman
Thursday 12 November 2015 17.34 GMT

In recent years, the Ford Motor Company has aggressively sought to solve environmental problems related to its products while reducing production costs. Wasted wheat straw often burned by Canadian farmers has been blended into a plastic feature of the Ford Flex to reduce petroleum use. Plastic bottles have been converted into fibers to cover the seats of a recent hybrid research vehicle.

Now, Ford is exploring biomimicry, the practice of solving complex human problems by replicating natural systems, in the hopes of continued economic and sustainability gains. In particular, the company hopes to derive new adhesives by studying the toe pads of the Tokay gecko, which allow the lizard to race across ceilings and glass windows, an ability that has inspired a rush of adhesives research over the last decade.

For Ford, cracking the secret of the Tokay gecko toe could mean boosting recycling rates for its vehicles by a full 10%. A gecko toe-inspired adhesive would allow the car manufacturer to better separate the mishmash of plastics and foams leftover after a car is stripped of its metal insides. “If we could separate it, if we could identify different streams within it, we would stand a much better chance of being able to utilize them for higher-end applications,” said Debbie Mielewski, the senior technical leader for plastics and sustainability research at Ford.

Read more at The Guardian.

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