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Nike Grind Materials for Car Interiors

Nike Grind materials can be used for car interiors in new cars.

Photo of Alexandra Ralevski
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The automotive industry has taken major steps in the past several years to increase sustainability in manufacturing and production, in an attempt to get in line with more eco-conscious consumers and reduce costs.

For example, the new Ford Focus Electric has a “100% sustainable interior”, including 35% recycled content made from denim and several other post-industrial fabrics. Ford estimates that it saves more than $10 million a year in North America alone by using recycled materials in its vehicles. Other companies, such as BMW, Nissan, GM, and Toyota, among others, have gotten on board, and are seeking sustainable alternatives to many commonly used manufacturing materials, and often use recycled content in the design and manufacturing of new vehicles.

Use of Nike Grind materials in car interiors can help continue improving sustainability in the automotive industry by providing recycled materials to automotive companies, reducing cost and waste, and encouraging companies and consumers to “close the loop” and recycle post-consumer waste.

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Outsoles
  • Rubber Flashings
  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Injection Scraps
  • EVA Foam Flashings
  • EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks
  • EVA Foam Components
  • Laminated EVA Foam
  • Laminated PU Foam
  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Mixed Footwear Textile
  • Footwear Fiber "Fluff"
  • Full Grain Leather Scraps
  • Split Leather Scraps Coated
  • Synthetic Leather

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

Rubber materials can be used in floor mats, window seals, cup holders, and gate slot pad mats. Foam materials can be used for dashboards, impact-absorbing foam blocks in door panels, and seat cushions. Leather can be used for steering wheels and certain types of car seats. Textile materials can be used in seat belts and certain types of car seats.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Auto manufacturers seeking cheaper and more sustainable alternative for materials, as well as a way to reduce the carbon footprint of their manufacturing and production processes. Car buyers seeking more sustainability-conscious products.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

The idea would be implemented in the finished product (the car) in the automotive marketplace. Possible obstacles include difficulty in transporting materials, and differences in quality control between materials.

How is your idea innovative?

This idea promotes companies from different sectors (athletics and automotive) to share materials. This can lead to changes in manufacturing streams and recycled materials streams, as well as business models with regards to sharing materials.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

I am a postdoctoral associate at Yale University specializing in neuroscience and plant biology research. I am also a biomimicry consultant for top companies, and am always thinking of new and innovative ways for companies to improve their products.

In what city are you located?

New Haven

In what country are you located?


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

Becoming a Top Idea will allow for this idea to be implemented, with a potential to save costs and reduce waste in the automotive industry.

This inspired (1)

Nike Grind Lotus Tec®


Join the conversation:

Photo of Awen Delaval

Hi Alexandra,
I had a great pleasure to read your project and would love to discuss with you about the technoligies. Can you tell more about the process and certification that you target.

Photo of Naman Mandhan

Hi Alexandra Ralevski !

Such a great idea! As a design engineer working within the automotive industry, I am truly excited about the potential that your idea holds! I had a few thoughts that surfaced while reading your idea:

1. As you go about conducting research on manufacturing processes and the life cycle of the products that you are designing for, it might also be interesting to think about the sourcing process for some materials. For example, as someone who designs structural components for vehicles, I constantly co-ordinate with material buyers and experts to understand the properties of materials, how they compare with existing materials, what the costs associated with each material are, who the different suppliers for these materials are, what kind of functional tests need to be conducted to authorize the use of a material, and whether or not there are other supplier who can source the material at a cheaper price.

2. I like Lauren Ito 's thought of breaking this down into smaller ideas in different posts, as there might be differences in the ease and scope of implementation of some of these ideas. For example, seat belts would probably need to go through rigorous testing as they are considered to be safety components on vehicles, while rubber mats and the inner lining on coffee cup holders might have more relaxed functional constraints.

3. While original equipment manufacturers (OEM) like Ford and GM might be able to incorporate some of these ideas into their products, there might also be an opportunity to tap into the aftermarket parts industry.

4. With your experience in biomimicry, could you think of examples of functions that are shared between nature and cars? A couple of examples that come to mind are absorption of impact in vehicles during high speed crashes, improving aerodynamics, and providing strength while reducing the weight of structural components. To take this one step further, how might some of the Nike Grind materials help meet these functions?

Hope this helps inspire some thoughts as you go about conducting further research and building on your idea! Happy to answer any specific questions that you might have regarding application of materials within vehicles, or offer feedback on any ideas! Excited to see this idea grow and evolve!

Photo of Alexandra Ralevski

Hi Naman Mandhan ,

Thank you so much for your input!

1. This is a very good point, and something I have been working on while trying to get in touch with various suppliers. Do you have contacts of suppliers who deal in recycling of rubber and/or EVA foam?

2/3. I agree with you and Lauren Ito, and have created new strategies where I break down the different parts that I think would be best for Nike Grind materials, focusing on rubber and foam (Nike Grind foam for impact resistance and seat cushioning in cars, Nike Grind Rubber to be used in car interiors). I believe rubber would be best for floor mats, window seals, cup holders, and gate slot pads for both OEM and aftermarket parts. I believe EVA foam sheet and block components could be used in impact absorption in door panels and dashboards, as well as for seat cushioning for OEM.

4. With regards to biomimicry, do you think this would be more useful on the end of the OEM rather than Nike, who is just providing materials? I have several biomimicry ideas for improving automotive structural components (for example, using the design of the woodpecker skull to improve impact absorption), that I would be more than happy to share with you.


Photo of Naman Mandhan

Hi Alexandra Ralevski !

I don't have any contacts off the top of my head, but let me try and dig something up!

Great question with regards to biomimicry! In terms of structural components, yes, I think that would be a conversation to be had with an OEM and might not be the most suitable application of the Nike Grind materials. I posed the question to add an additional thought avenue for you to explore. Other than structural components, could you think of any other examples in automotive vehicles that might benefit from biomimicry, and be able to utilize the Nike Grind materials? With the examples that you presented above, are there examples in nature that can inspire your design?

Photo of Alexandra Ralevski

Hi Naman Mandhan,

Thanks, that would be great! I feel the next stage of my design process would greatly benefit from insider knowledge of the automotive industry. I have been contacting several manufacturers and suppliers, but a direct contact would be most helpful!

With the examples I presented above, I mentioned the woodpecker skull for impact absorption for foam to be used in car doors and dashboards. Foam is also used for the underlying carpeting on car floors, and there are several biomimicry examples for soundproofing and temperature control that could be used.

Additionally, there are several possibilities for waterproofing/self-cleaning surfaces for rubber for the car interior, as well as the tires and the rubber blades of windshield wipers.

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Alexandra Ralevski ,

Great to see an individual with biomimicry expertise in the Challenge! I'm curious to hear more about your concept and how you might begin to prototype sketch some of your designs. Additionally, how specifically might these materials be processed for your concept?

I'm also tagging in community member Laura Stucki to provide some feedback/questions on your concept from a lens of next steps to support the innovation process!

Can't wait to learn more!

Photo of Alexandra Ralevski

Hi Lauren Ito ,

Thank you, I'm excited to be taking part! I’ve started the process of contacting different manufacturers of rubber, foam (PU and EVA), seatbelt webbing, seat fabric, and leather for the automotive industry, to get a better sense of how they use recycled materials and what their manufacturing processes involve. I will upload some prototyping sketches to my idea page this week, where I will describe exactly which Nike Grind materials I think would be best for which parts of the car interior.

As I learn more about different manufacturing/recycling processes, I will add these to the prototyping images as well.

I look forward to hearing from Laura Stucki  with any feedback or questions, to help move this concept forward!


Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Alexandra Ralevski ,

Great to see the photos you've uploaded that feature different materials utilized in different interior elements. The goal of this challenge is to submit specific concepts/designs for products. We welcome you to submit more than one concept to the challenge, but would encourage you to divide up your specific designs into separate posts for the ideas you are most excited to move forward (after another layer of research). Really excited to see the evolution of this concept!

Also tagging in community rockstars Rachel Rosenbaum and Naman Mandhan in case they have any useful resources, feedback, of questions to support the development of you concept!