Nanocellulose fruit fibers make a new type of material 4x stronger and 30% lighter than petroleum-based plastic.
In a statement, the lead researcher, Alcides Leão, said that the fruit-based plastics rival Kevlar, a plastic used to create bullet proof vests. It’s also more resistant to heat, gasoline, and water, making it the perfect plastic to use in cars and other vehicles. Not only would the plastic be less likely to catch fire in a crash, but the product’s light weight would equate to better fuel economy. Plus, the plastic is made entirely from renewable materials and is biodegradable.
To create the plastic, the leaves and stems of useable plants are cooked in a device similar to a pressure cooker, creating a talcum powder-like substance. Leão said that the best fruit for the job seems to be the pineapple, but bananas, coconut shells, agave, and curaua (a plant related to pineapple) all work well, too. One pound of nanocellulose can produce 100 pounds of plastic.