Scientists Make Lightweight Plastics from Fruit

One way to lose weight is to eat more fruit. Turns out a fruit diet is good for cars too. Researchers in Brazil have made a lightweight plastic from the nano-fibers of bananas, pineapples, and coconut shells.

I already knew fruit was amazing, and the process of weaving wood fiber into paper has been around for centuries. Only recently though have researchers from Sao Paulo University in Brazil begun to unlock the mysteries of nano cellulose fibers. You can supposedly fit 50,000 of these fibers across the width of a human hair. When woven together and combined with plastic, they produce a material that is up to three times lighter and four times stronger than the types of plastics currently used in cars. Researchers say that in as little as two years that fruit nano fibers could be used in car production in as little as two years, shedding hundreds of pounds in weight without sacrificing rigidity. Comparable materials, like carbon fiber and Kevlar are expensive to make. What is so promising about these fibers is that they come from the leftovers of fruit, like pineapple stems and leaves, rather than the edible fruit itself, thus avoiding the food-for-fuel issue. Other good sources of nano-fibers include the coir fibers in coconut shells, sisal fibers from the Agave plant (get ready for a Tequila shortage), and bananas (banana skins?)

A lightweight, affordable plastic that could shed hundreds, or even thousands of pounds from a car could have huge implications for fuel economy. Weight is the enemy of fuel efficiency and performance, and cars seem to just keep getting bigger and heavier. Is this the revolution we’ve been waiting for, or another dead-end dream?

P.S. What’d you guys think of my awesome MS Paint skills?

Source: The Daily Mail

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.

 

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.