Honeywell International Inc. has its first customer for repolymerized nylon. Ford Motor Co. is putting the material, made from recycled office carpet, under the hoods of more than 250,000 vehicles.
A throttle-body adapter molded by Visteon Corp. will go into 2001 model-year 5.4-liter engines for Econoline vans, F-series pickups and Excursion sport-utilities. Half of the nylon in the part is repolymerized nylon 6, carrying the brand name Infinity.
'It's a big win for us to have the application in the marketplace,' said Kim Davies, recycling market manager for Honeywell's engineered applications and solutions.
The repolymerized nylon has gone into textiles and fibers in the past but never made it into production as a plastic part until Ford agreed to do so, starting this fall.
Honeywell targeted Ford, banking on Chairman William Clay Ford Jr.'s desire to push for environmental benefits within the business. 'I am supersupportive of all efforts to find ways for Ford Motor Co. to use recycled products,' said Andy Acho, worldwide director of environmental outreach for Ford. 'This is serious business for us; not just (public relations).'
Acho said Ford already keeps 27 million square feet of used carpeting out of landfills by using standard recycling techniques to recover nylon used in 3 million air-cleaner housings.
'Ford was involved with a lot of our discussions from the start,' Davies said.
Making that first sale was the hardest step for Honeywell, she said.
The company had to educate buyers that the repolymerization technique was different from conventional recycling and that breaking the used carpeting down to its molecular structures could produce nylon that was the same as virgin material.
'We spent a lot of time selling them on understanding the chemical recycling process versus standard recycling,' Davies said.
The company also had to bring in its repolymerized nylon at the same cost as virgin material. While automakers may be anxious to push an environmental platform, they are not anxious to pay more for it.
'In the marketplace, you can't be cost prohibitive,' said Davies, who would not discuss details on the cost to produce Infinity.
Glass-reinforced nylon 6 has been used for throttle bodies in the past in other vehicles, although Ford was using aluminum for the part in production of its trucks and vans.