A greener vehicular industry may be possible by manufacturing plastics from plant fibres.
Finding ways to maximize the fuel economy of vehicles is an ever more pressing concern on every automotive company’s agenda. Cutting the weight of cars will increase the miles per gallon of each vehicle and would go a long way to helping matters, indeed some are even looking into nanotechnology to accomplish this.
Revolutionary inroads into lighter, stronger materials, have been made using an unexpected material: fruits. Researchers at Sao Paulo State University have manufactured nanocellulosic plastic from pineapples, bananas, coconut shells, agave and curaua.
These new plastics have a number of amazing properties:
They are light, but very strong — 30 percent lighter and three to four times stronger. Furthermore the nanocellulosic plastic is made entirely of renewable materials and is biodegradable.
Due to the levels of strength attainable by these plastics the chief researcher, Alcides Leão, has already examined the possibility of extending the industrial reach of the technology:
“So far, we’re focusing on replacing automotive plastics,” Leão says. “But in the future, we may be able to replace steel and aluminum automotive parts using these plant-based nanocellulose materials.”
Image Credit: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Image Library / Flickr