Ford Partners With Jose Cuervo To Make Car Parts Out Of Agave Plants

There is no doubt a quip about drinking and driving in here somewhere, but Jose Cuervo, the tequila distillery, is partnering up with Ford Motor Company to create car parts out of the agave plant. Together, Cuervo and Ford plan to develop a sustainable bioplastic material out of agave to use in cars and trucks to give the byproduct of the tequila process a second life. Right now, the companies are testing the material for heat resistance to see if it is best used on the inside or outside of vehicles, and they are trying to see if the agave product can reduce or replace the need for petrochemicals.

According to the Inquisitr, finding other uses for plant products is nothing new. Marijuana is also used for fabric and to treat a variety of ailments, including CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is caused by head trauma. It is being suggested that marijuana might be incredibly helpful, especially with former football players who are suffering severe head injuries in a larger percentage than the rest of the population. If the marijuana plant can have multiple purposes, like making hemp fabrics, soap, and more, why not get more use out of the agave plant?

Business Wire explains that the Ford Motor Company and Jose Cuervo are exploring all the possibilities that involve using agave to create things other than tequila. One of the benefits of agave is its weight. Agave is very light, and if used to create certain car parts, it could reduce the overall weight of a vehicle. Ford is interested in reducing their impact on the environment, and Jose Cuervo has a great deal of material left over when creating their tequila, so both Ford and Cuervo have something to gain from this process. Currently, a great deal of the agave plant goes to waste.

Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader for the sustainability research department, wants Ford to lead the way in terms of using alternative resources.

“At Ford, we aim to reduce our impact on the environment. As a leader in the sustainability space, we are developing new technologies to efficiently employ discarded materials and fibers, while potentially reducing the use of petrochemicals and light-weighting our vehicles for desired fuel economy.”

Growing agave is a process that takes a minimum of seven years. After the agave plant is harvested, the heart is roasted before the agave is processed and the liquid extracted for use in the tequila process for Jose Cuervo. The leftover material is only used as compost on the Cuervo agave farm, but the remnants are significant, so to find a use for the leftover agave material would benefit Cuervo and Ford.

Sonia Espinola, the director of heritage for the Cuervo Foundation and master tequilera, believes it would be an incredible accomplishment to bring two companies of note, Cuervo and Ford together to make better use of the whole agave plant.

“Jose Cuervo is proud to be working with Ford to further develop our agave sustainability plan. As the world’s No. 1-selling tequila, we could never have imagined the hundreds of agave plants we were cultivating as a small family business would eventually multiply to millions. This collaboration brings two great companies together to develop innovative, earth-conscious materials.”

Tech Crunch announced the partnership between Jose Cuervo and Ford Motor Company this week, and they mused about the odd partnership and the challenges any marketing firm will face going forward to sell agave as the new wonder material. Right now, Cuervo and Ford are testing the agave-derived bioplastics for parts that would include HVAC, storage areas, and harnesses made out of agave.

As Cuervo processes between 200 and 300 tons of agave daily, there is no lack of material for Ford to use, and that gives agave another life. As an added bonus, Ford could start using agave-based plastics instead of the chemical based materials it currently uses.

Mielewski of Ford is encouraged by what she has seen so far of the agave plant, and she is thrilled that Cuervo has such an excess of the byproduct from the agave plant.

“They’re shredding, mashing and extracting the juice and what’s left over that nobody knows what to do with? The fibers. They sent us some treated fibers and we were able to chop it and compound it into plastic.”

If Ford’s experience with agave is fruitful, there are other natural materials on the horizon that Ford would like to try, including wheat straw, castor oil, kenaf fiber, cellulose, wood, coconut fiber, and rice hulls, which are the eight sustainable-based materials used for car parts by the automaker today.

Ford says that at this time, there are approximately 400 pounds of plastic on the average car, and if agave made materials can replace even a percentage of that, it’s a good thing.

Do you think Ford and Cuervo can use agave to make a new super material? Have you ever thought of agave as a plastic substitute?

[Photo by Tracie Cone/AP Images]