Consider it the ultimate in green engineering: Researchers at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil have developed a way to use plant fibers to create a stronger, lighter and more environmentally-friendly automotive plastic than ever before.
The new nano-cellulose fibers, which come from “delicate fruits” like bananas and pineapples, are as strong as Kevlar, according to Alcides Leao, the team-leader of the project:
The properties of these plastics are incredible. They are light, but very strong – 30 percent lighter and 3-to-4 times stronger. We believe that a lot of car parts, including dashboards, bumpers [and] side panels, will be made of nano-sized fruit fibers in the future. For one thing, they will help reduce the weight of cars and that will improve fuel economy.
Those aren’t the only benefits of the new plastics; Leao also claims that they are more resistant to heat, water and spilled gasoline than conventional plastics. Leao presented his team’s findings to the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society this weekend, suggesting that alternative uses for the plastics may also include medical applications including hip replacements, artificial heart valves and ligaments. Personally, I’m pulling for Apple to make a claim for use in iPhones and iPads, for the “Apple/Banana” branding opportunities alone.
Image by ~ABVH.
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