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Next Generation Cars To Be Made Using Bananas And Apples

Question asked by kunal in #Automobiles on Mar 30, 2011
kunal · Mar 30, 2011
Rank D1 - MASTER
Green technology is slowly but steadily gaining momentum and people all around the globe are warming to the idea of using eco friendly gadgets and energy resources. As a result, we get to hear about a lot of novel techniques of manufacturing and processing biodegradable and energy efficient products. Some of these theories sound realistic and believable. But there are always a few that sound ridiculously absurd. In which of the two categories will you put the technology which I will be telling you about? Listen carefully before making your decision. So tell me now, do you believe that cars can be made with the help of bananas, pineapples, etc? I think that most of you think that I am out of my mind. But this is not just a vague idea from some crazy scientist’s psyched out brain but a well proven research.

Scientists in Brazil have found out that fibers from a lot of fruits and vegetables can be used in the manufacture of ecologically safe plastics. These plastics could be then used for making automotive parts. Tests conducted by them prove that this type of plastic will be much stronger, durable and lighter than the traditionally used plastic fiber spare parts. This research work was presented at the recently concluded 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

[​IMG]The team of researchers is led by Dr. Alcides Leao. He is of the opinion that though the fibers used for supporting the plastics come from tender fruits but they are having incredible strength which is greater than the currently used materials. These fibers are called nano-cellulose fibers and they are as hard as Kevlar. Kevlar is an ultra strong plastic material which is widely used in industries since many years for making bulletproof clothing and armors for defense personnel. So you can now understand the capability of this nano-cellulose fiber. The main advantage that this new plastic provides is that unlike other plastics originating from petroleum or natural gas, it is completely renewable. Another important aspect of these fibers is that though they have improved strength they are very light in weight. For the record, let me tell you an amazing statistic that nano cellulose strengthened plastic is 30% lighter and 3 to 4 times stronger than traditional plastics. Such kind of plastics can be used to manufacture a wide array of automobile spare parts such as dashboards, side panels, bumpers, hood, etc. An important point to note is that with the decrease in weight, the fuel efficiency of car will increase which will result in better economy and fuel saving.

Besides the above mentioned benefits, the nano cellulose strands have a few other mechanical plus points such as greater resistance to damage caused by heat, spilled gasoline, oxygen and water. A lot of automobile companies have also tested the plastics reinforced with these fibers and the results have been positive. So there is a possibility that this material will be available for industrial applications within a couple of years.

Cellulose is the main fiber that makes wood in all plants and trees. Normal sized cellulose fibers are in use from centuries for paper manufacturing. Now, scientists have collected results which prove that intensive processing of wood yields ultra tiny fibers termed as nano cellulose. The fibers are so small more than 50,000 fiber strands could fit inside a single human hair! These nano fibers can be added to plastics to enhance their properties and performance. Scientists working on this project believe that pineapple leaves and stem are a better source of nano cellulose as compared to wood. Other sources of this material are bananas, coir fibers of coconuts, typha, sisal fibers from agave plants, etc. The manufacturing process of these fibres is pretty costly but only 1 pound of nano cellulose is sufficient to produce about 100 pounds of lightweight, extra tough plastic. Presently, Dr.Leao is focusing on replacing the automobile plastics only but he feels that such plastics could one day be used in medical applications such as cardiac valves, artificial muscles and ligaments, hip joints, etc.

Image Credits: SyntheticWarehouse Posted in: #Automobiles

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