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Ford looks to geckos to boost the recyclability of its cars #Biomimicry

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Ford is hoping to make the recycling of it’s cars more efficient with a gecko to inspired adhesive. via the guardian

Ford is exploring biomimicry, the practice of solving complex human problems by replicating natural systems, in the hopes of continued economic and sustainability gains. In particular, the company hopes to derive new adhesives by studying the toe pads of the Tokay gecko, which allow the lizard to race across ceilings and glass windows, an ability that has inspired a rush of adhesives research over the last decade.

For Ford, cracking the secret of the Tokay gecko toe could mean boosting recycling rates for its vehicles by a full 10%. A gecko toe-inspired adhesive would allow the car manufacturer to better separate the mishmash of plastics and foams leftover after a car is stripped of its metal insides. “If we could separate it, if we could identify different streams within it, we would stand a much better chance of being able to utilize them for higher-end applications,” said Debbie Mielewski, the senior technical leader for plastics and sustainability research at Ford.

While the bulk of a typical car or truck – the steel – has obvious resale value and is stripped and resold fairly easily, the remaining melange of plastic, fiber, rubber and non-ferrous metals known collectively as “shredder waste” is much more difficult to reclaim and is typically landfilled.

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