The humble banana has been renowned for years for its high potassium content and as an excellent low GI, low carbohydrate snack for sports enthusiasts. Now, researchers and scientists believe it also holds strong structural properties, suitable for automotive manufacturing.
Scientists in Brazil are discovering fibres that are found in pineapples and bananas could be used as a suitable material to replace certain plastics, such as those found throughout car interiors. Researchers are saying these fibres can be bonded to form a 'green generation' of materials that are both extra strong and friendly to the environment.
Not only is the fruit plastic more healthy (to the environment) than normal plastic but the researchers say it's also stronger and much lighter. This could bring an entire range of luxurious new interior finishes; instead of opting for walnut trimming, buyers may soon be able to lash out on a 'nano-cellulose fibre' dashboard.
These 'nano-cellulose' fibres are found in various fruits ranging from bananas, coconuts and pineapples, and can even be bonded to represent a structure as strong as Kevlar. Dr Alcides Leao, who leads the research from the Sao Paolo State University, spoke about the fruity plastic in a recent report by The Press Association, saying,
"They are light, but very strong - 30 percent lighter and three to four times stronger [than regular plastic]. We believe that a lot of car parts, including dashboards, bumpers, side panels, will be made of nano-sized fruit fibres in the future. For one thing, they will help reduce the weight of cars, and that will improve fuel economy."
It is only early days, but scientists are saying these fibres are also more resistant to the elements, such as water and heat, than conventional plastics. And, the fibre technology could also advance to see not just plastics be replaced by the stuff, but also steel and aluminium parts.