Plastics made from fruit could make cars lighter and stronger

Who knew delicious bananas, pineapples and coconuts could potentially be used to build stronger and lighter cars? A team of Brazilian scientists have figured out a way to use fruit fibers to build extremely strong plastics that are up to four times stronger than petroleum-based plastic.

Led by researcher Alcides Leão, the "nanocellulose fibers" possess properties that can supposedly rival Kevlar, the tough stuff found in bulletproof vests. Nanocellulose fibers aren't just lighter and stronger, it's also "more resistant to heat, gasoline and water." Can you see a car that doesn't instantly catch on fire and explode in a car crash? We can.

In addition to being great for building dashboads, bumpers and body panels, the fiber is also entirely biodegradable, meaning the material won't be sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years, but will decompose. While the goal of the fiber is to replace regular plastics, Leão hopes it can eventually be an adequate substitute for steel and aluminum car parts as well.

For the time being, Leão says that nanocellulose fibers are way too expensive to mass produce, but there's hope. He says that if the auto industry stands by its potential in creating greener cars, it's entirely possible that the price could come down in the future. We're already a seeing rise in plastics made from corn, and with fruits, the benefits are clear: it's sweeter for you, me, the cars — and Earth.

Wired, via Gearlog

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