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Science Technology

Plastic Made From Fruit Rivals Kevlar In Strength 181

Posted by samzenpus
from the protecting-yourself-with-fresh-fruit dept.
jldailey618 writes "A group of scientists from Sao Paulo State University developed a way to use the nanocellulose fibers from bananas, pineapples, and other fruits to create incredibly strong, lightweight plastics. The plastic is up to four times stronger and 30 percent lighter than petroleum-based plastics, and it rivals Kevlar — the material used in bullet proof vests — in strength."
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Plastic Made From Fruit Rivals Kevlar In Strength

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  • What else is in it? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cromar (1103585) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @07:53PM (#35672926)
    The article says that one pound of nanocellulose can be used to produce 100 pounds of the plastic. So what else is in it? Maybe it's a journalistic error, but it would seem that that violates physical law...
  • Industrial hemp (Score:5, Interesting)

    by narcc (412956) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @08:01PM (#35673002) Journal

    We've been able to make all sorts of materials from plant fibers for years, including plastic.

    As an added bonus, many of those materials are both incredibly strong and bio-degradable. Take a look at hemp plastic -- one of the many reasons to support industrial hemp.

  • Re:Industrial hemp (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @08:12PM (#35673106) Journal
    When I did some work in the Philippines I had to go to a function where the president was going to attend, so went out and bought a high end barong (type of Philippine shirt). These were used in place of tuxedos (yes we wore pants too). The barong was made of banana fibre and was quite expensive (several hundred dollars at the time). I still have it. The interesting thing is that is does feel kid of plasticy and slippery. The fabric is partially see through (you wear a white tee shirt under it) and kind of stiff. Because of this, this article doesn't surprise me one bit.
  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @08:34PM (#35673274) Homepage

    We already have fruit made from plastic. So why not make plastic from fruit? That way the circle of life continues indefinitely.

  • Re:Industrial hemp (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @09:05PM (#35673476)

    I had a shirt made of eucalypt that was very light, plasticy feeling and hard wearing.

    The thing I found most odd about it wasn't that such a synthetic feeling fabric came from a plant, but that I live in Australia where eucalypts originate and the shirt was made in China most probably from Chinese eucalypt plantations, being the largest in the world.

    I would like to see more done with eucalypts for plastics. They are a great source of celulose and other goodies, grow quickly without needing much water and they are not a valuable food source like bananas, corn and pineapple. And there's a reason we call them gum trees.

  • by Thing 1 (178996) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @09:51PM (#35673780) Journal

    The article says that one pound of nanocellulose can be used to produce 100 pounds of the plastic. So what else is in it? Maybe it's a journalistic error, but it would seem that that violates physical law...

    I really liked the topical Married With Children response (the other half of the raisins came from Japan?), but I think the simple answer is it's a reading comprehension, or writer overly compressing the message, issue: one pound of nanocellulose is used, but it is not the only ingredient; the important sentence ends the sixth paragraph: "These fibers can be added to other raw materials to produce reinforced plastic."

    I also really liked the linked article in the fourth paragraph, about Ford exploring nanotechnology to get their vehicles' weight down. Competition will get us to the Singularity faster!

  • by mldi (1598123) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @01:01AM (#35674902)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanocellulose [wikipedia.org]

    Old news. This has been known since the late 70s. It's terribly energy intensive. The material costs 30MWh to produce with some methods getting that down to 1MWh but with more complex processes.

    I don't see anything that indicates an improvement in the process in that article that would make the material more cost effective or live up to the potentials mentioned in the wikipee article. It looks like the typical article meant to gather research money and it's been picked up because of the presentation made at the chemical groups exposition.

    As oil prices keep increasing, alternatives like this (combined with newer tech) become much more cost-effective. My question is: do these plastics degrade faster than petroleum based plastics? I have the giant garbage islands floating in the oceans in mind here.

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