Ford Taps Tiny Bubbles for Lighter, More Fuel Efficient Cars

Ford is turning to a new tech to reduce the weight of its cars and improve fuel efficiency: tiny bubbles. Ford (s f) says it is trialling a technology out of the labs of MIT, now owned by Trexel, called MuCell, which injects micro bubbles into plastic components.

The process involves the controlled injection of gas, like carbon or nitrogen, into the injection molding process, which creates millions of non-uniform bubbles into plastic parts, reducing the weight dramatically, but maintaining the performance and durability. Ford says the weight of plastic components can drop by 10 percent using MuCell, and Ford wants to reduce the weight of its vehicles by between 250 and 750 pounds per car by 2020.

The technology is an example of the types of eco innovations that automakers can turn to in the short term, while making more aggressive longer-term efficiency moves like with electric cars and biofuels. Ford has been working on its mobile applications in a similar way, and at our Green:Net event on April 21 in San Francisco, you’ll be able to hear on Ford’s connected car play from Edward Pleet, product and business development manager for connected services for Ford.

More efficient engine technology for internal combustion engines has also been receiving investment and interest from big auto makers. Here areĀ 7 startups building green car tech for a pre-electric car world, including Achates Power, EcoMotors, and Transonic Combustion.