Friday, July 13, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 9:44 PM

The Ford Motor Co. and Lear Corp. will mark an automotive milestone when the production of soy-based foam for seats begins in the 2008 Mustang. Ford and Lear collaborated with the United Soybean Board - New Uses Committee (a group of 64 farmers and agriculture industry leaders), Urethane Soy Systems Company, Bayer Corporation and Renosol Corporation on soy-foam development.

"Soy is a very green, renewable resource," said Debbie Mielewski, the technical leader for Ford's Materials Research & Advanced Engineering Department. Ford said that the environmental advantages include reduced carbon dioxide emissions in manufacturing compared to petroleum-based foam, lower energy use to produce the soy foam and reduced dependence on foreign oil.

Each vehicle manufactured contains an average of 30 pounds of petroleum-based foam. The foam, which is 40 percent soy and 60 percent oil-based, costs about the same as conventional foam that is fully oil-based, Mielewski said. Ford hopes to use the new seat foam in more models in the upcoming 2008 model year, Mielewski added.

Ford was the first automaker in the world to demonstrate that soy-based polyols could be used at high percentage levels to make foam capable of meeting or exceeding automotive requirements. In 2004, Ford and Lear formed a partnership to commercialize soy-foam applications, with initial work concentrating on the molding of headrest and armrest components.