Scientists in Brazil have developed a way to use fibers from pineapples, bananas, and other plants in a new generation of automotive plastics that are stronger, lighter, and more “green” than plastics now in use. The technology was described at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
The fibers called for with this new development may come from delicate fruits like bananas, but they are super strong – almost as stiff as Kevlar, the material used in armor and bulletproof vests. Unlike Kevlar, these nano-cellulose fibers are 100% renewable.
"The properties of these plastics are incredible," says study leader Alcides Leão , Ph.D. "They are light, but very strong — 30 per cent lighter and 3-to-4 times stronger. We believe that a lot of car parts, including dashboards, bumpers, side panels, will be made of nano-sized fruit fibers in the future. For one thing, they will help reduce the weight of cars and that will improve fuel economy."
In more recent years, scientists have discovered that intensive processing of wood releases ultra-small, or "nano" cellulose fibers, so tiny that 50,000 could fit inside across the width of a single strand of human hair. Like fibers made from glass, carbon, and other materials, nano-cellulose fibers can be added to raw material used to make plastics, producing reinforced plastics that are stronger and more durable.
The application of this green technology to produce automotive plastics utilizing pineapples and bananas could have significant impact to the energy world.