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 DEARBORN, Mich., April 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) has found a way to "put the brakes" on an environmental challenge that has faced society for many years.
 Using a patented process, Ford and thermoplastic rubber supplier Syntene Company are working together to recycle old automotive tires into a variety of parts, such as brake-pedal pads for future Ford vehicles.
 "We are very excited about the potential for this new process to keep old tires out of landfills," says Helen Petrauskas, Ford's vice president of Environmental and Safety Engineering. "Each day, an estimated 2 million tires are produced worldwide. And, each year, approximately 240 million tires -- one for every person in the U.S. -- are discarded."
 Some of the discarded tires -- less than 5 percent -- are currently used in fabricated products, such as industrial floor mats, playground surfaces, rubber roofing, garden products, and dock and trailer bumpers.
 The auto industry has been successful at using rubber left over from tire manufacturing to make air deflectors, shields and seals often found under the hood. In fact, Ford is the largest automotive user of tire manufacturing scrap, purchasing more than 18 million pounds each year.
 But using old tires in automotive applications has been a challenge.
 The dilemma has been lack of a way to "devulcanize" or break down the chemical components of a tire after it is produced. Unmolded rubber -- including the material left over from the tire manufacturing process -- can easily be reused in a variety of automotive applications.
 But, once it is molded by heat into the shape of a tire, the rubber and its chemical makeup change dramatically, making the tire difficult to reuse. "Think of a rubber as an egg," Petrauskas explains. "Before you cook it, you can make all sorts of things. But once the egg is hard-boiled -- similar to what happens when making a tire -- your only option is egg-salad."
 Ford worked with the Richmond, Ind.-based Syntene Company for nearly a year to develop automotive applications to utilize the innovative tire recycling process. In the multi-phase process, the tires are ground into a fine powder, magnetically separated to remove steel belting and other materials, screened and sorted.
 The end result is a rubber particle that can be mixed with plastic and -- using Syntene's patented process -- turned into pellets that can be molded into vehicle parts. The first such part is a brake-pedal pad. The pad already has been tested in the lab and is now being piloted on a fleet of Ford Taurus police cars, Crown Victoria taxi cabs and Lincoln Town Car shuttles on the road in Alaska, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska and Nevada.
 Ford expects to begin using the new pads on production vehicles next year.
 The pads contain at least 50 percent recycled tire content. In addition to helping save tires from landfills, the recycled pads weigh less, cost less to produce and meet or exceed quality levels of the parts they replace. One tire can produce an estimated 250 pads.
 The brake-pedal pad alone, if implemented companywide, has the potential to save thousands of tires from landfills each year. Ford also is exploring additional near-term uses for the recycled tire material, such as other pedal pads, carpet backing, splash guards and weather seals -- to name a few.
 "Automobiles already are one of the most recycled consumer products in the nation. But, at Ford, we continue to push recycling to its limits," Petrauskas says. "We add tire recycling to a long list of recycling initiatives Ford has helped pioneer."
 Other Ford recycling projects initiated during the past few years include:
 The company was the first to take an old
 vehicle part -- plastic bumpers -- and
 recycle them into new parts -- taillamps on
 Taurus and Sable wagons.
 Ford is the nation's largest automotive user
 of recycled plastic soda bottles -- using 50
 million a year for grille assemblies, luggage
 racks and door padding.
 Ford was the first to take old plastic
 battery housings and turn them into new
 splash shields for a variety of vehicles.
 Ford also was the first to issue worldwide
 guidelines to suppliers and engineers
 stressing vehicle recyclability and using
 parts made from recycled materials.
 -0- 4/18/94
 /CONTACT: Ray Day, 313-322-7998, or Carol Goll, 313-323-0660, both of Ford/

CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Michigan IN: AUT ENV SU:

TO -- DE013 -- 8778 04/18/94 11:27 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 18, 1994

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