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Brazil: Cars could be made of pineapple and banana

by Nicole
March 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Green cars of the future could have a much smaller carbon footprint thanks to environmentally friendly plastics. The new type of plastic could debut in two years and it’s made from pineapple leaves and fibers obtained from bananas.

Scientists in Brazil promise a new solution for the development of plastics. According to Alcides Leão, fibers from banana, pineapple and other plants can be used to develop a new generation of plastics. They are organic, stronger and lighter than conventional plastic.

Those fibers have been called nano-cellulose fibres, and some are almost as stiff as Kevlar, the renowned super-strong material used in armour and bulletproof vests. For those who don’t know, Kevlar is the material used by dealers to make body armor and other such materials.

Unlike conventional plastic and Kevlar, the new nano-cellulose fibres are not made from petroleum or natural gas, they are produced from renewable sources. In addition, the new materials benefic from several advantages over conventional plastics – high resistance to damage caused by heat, resistance to fuel, water and weather.

Several car manufacturers are testing these technologies, and Brazilian scientists expect to see these nano-cellulose fibres entering production within two years.

Initially, the new material will be used to replace flexible plastic, which will subsequently replace tougher elements. To prepare these materials, scientists must introduce the leaves from pineapple and other plants in a device similar to a pressure cooking pot. Then, the plants receive a number of chemicals, after which they are reheated in several cycles. The resulting material is like talcum powder and the process is quite expensive. With just 0.45 kilograms of nano-cellulose fibres, scientists can create more than 45 kilograms of plastic.

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