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Michigan Automaker to Build Cars With Tomatoes?

Michigan’s Ford Motor Company has teamed up with Heinz, not to discuss putting name brand ketchup in the automakers break room, but to explore the idea of building cars with tomatoes.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the collaborative effort is seeking ways to replace petroleum-based chemicals used in the plastic components for Ford’s vehicles with tomato fibers – essentially out of the fruit’s dry skins.

“We are exploring whether this food processing byproduct makes sense for an automotive application,” said Ellen Lee, with Ford’s research department. “Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact.”

The concept of using tomato fibers comes from Heinz wanting to recycle waste from the over 2 million tons of tomatoes it uses every year to produce ketchup.

“We are delighted that the technology has been validated,” said Vidhu Nagpal, with Heinz. “Although we are in the very early stages, and many questions remain, we are excited about the possibilities this could produce and the advancement of sustainable 100% plant-based plastics.”

Henry Ford also experimented with manufacturing vehicles made out of hemp in the 1940s.

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