From carpet to … engine cylinder covers?

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The carpet underfoot in homes sometimes ends up in strange places, and now [it’s] landed in another unique spot – the cylinder head covers on some Ford engines.” –Brett Hinds, manager, engine design for Ford Motor Co.

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Here’s a rather unique (and somewhat bizarre) recycling story – taking old carpet and turning it into engine cylinder head covers.

And not covers for some underpowered one-liter lawn mower engine, either – we’re talking about cylinder head covers for the 3.0-liter Duratec engine powering Ford Motor Co.’s Fusion sedan and Escape sport utility vehicle (SUV), along with the big 5.0-liter monster found under the hood of Ford’s new Mustang and F-150 pickup truck.

The stuff in question is called “EcoLon,” a nylon resin made from 100% recycled carpet by Wellman Engineering Resins used as the raw material to craft cylinder head covers for Ford by Dana Holding Corp.

By using EcoLon within these engine models last year, Ford saved over 4.1 million pounds of carpet from landfills – the equivalent of nearly 154 football fields –saving more than 430,000 gallons of oil in the process as well.

[The video below from carpet maker Shaw Industries shows how old carpet is turned back into ready-to-use nylon that becomes the raw material for all sorts of other products, including, of course, new carpet.]

To repurpose nylon, Wellman grinds used nylon carpeting into fiber and recaptures the material through a patented, proprietary process. The resulting product is a high-quality nylon resin, which Dana then uses to mold into cylinder head covers through its injection-molding process.

“We didn't have to make compromises for this application,” pointed out Roy Ford, engine sealing supervisor for Ford. “With a fixed raw material cost that delivers cost savings compared to oil, along with the green benefit, this application adds to the ways Ford is minimizing our impact on the environment.”

Just goes to show you that you just never quite know what sustainability efforts will lead to – nor what kinds of products turn out to be excellent candidates for recycling.

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