Various scientists have been arguing over bioplastics and their cleanliness to the environment lately. A new invention from Brazil creates bioplastics having the strength similar to Kevlar from bananas and pineapples. Alcides Lei£o, a researcher at Sao Paulo State University, and the project leader, says his bioplastics are “30% lighter and three to four times stronger.” (Wired)
The benefits? Fuel economy, reduced carbon footprint and higher resistance to heat, gasoline and water. Nanocellulosic fibers are 50,000 times thinner than the human hair and can even be combined with other materials to enhance their strengths.
Bananas, coconut shells, agave and curaua are also in the focus of Lei£o’s team, who plans making something that resembles talcum powder from their leaves and stems. He also says that one pound of nanocellulose can produce 100 pounds of bioplastic.
Prospects to this technology could be automakers like Ford, already researching alternative solutions to plastics by themselves. Unfortunately, the price for this technology hasn’t been mentioned yet, but Lei£o is optimistic it will eventually drop if giants like Ford would embrace it. For the moment, all he has are lab tests with pineapples, which are not that expensive.
Even bigger dreams lie ahead, besides plastics: “So far, we’re focusing on replacing automotive plastics,” Lei£o says. “But in the future, we may be able to replace steel and aluminum automotive parts using these plant-based nanocellulose materials.”
Which is pretty cool, because we’d end up with a biodegradable replacement of steel – sounds nice.