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Banana-Based Vehicles

Lighter, Faster and Eco-friendly Autos from Plant-Based Plastics

— March 31, 2011 — Autos
According to researchers from Sao Paulo State University in Brazil, the technological potential of bananas, and other tropical fruits and plants in the field of plant-based plastics, is far from monkey business.

Scientists were able to isolate nanocellulose fibres -- compounds located in the cell walls of banana peels, coconut and pineapple husks -- to engineer a lightweight organic plastic that is renewable, biodegradable and rivals Kevlar in strength. The new material is also resistant to heat, gasoline and water damage. And thanks to a 30 percent reduction in weight compared to traditional petroleum-based plastics, the organic compound would significantly improve vehicular fuel economy, too.

So far, there’s no indication of what the substance would cost, or whether the automotive industry will embrace it. But the Brazilian team says plant-based plastics will likely enter the marketplace in a couple of years, and will become more affordable as the scale of production increases.

Photo Credits:
Fernando Stankuns Flickr | TigerPuppala Flickr
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