A team at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil claims to have developed a more effective way to use fibre from these and other plants in a new generation of automotive plastics stronger, lighter, and more eco-friendly than plastics in use.
Team leader Alcides Leao said that the fibre used to reinforce the new plastics may come from delicate fruits like bananas and pineapples, but they are super strong.
Some of these so-called nano-cellulose fibres are almost as stiff as Kevlar, the renowned super-strong material used in armour and bulletproof vests. Unlike Kevlar and other traditional plastics, which are made from petroleum or natural gas, nano-cellulose fibres are completely renewable.
"The properties of these plastics are incredible. They are light, but very strong -- 30% lighter and 3-to-4 times stronger. 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," Leao said.
Besides weight reduction, nano-cellulose reinforced plastics have mechanical advantages over conventional auto-motive plastics, he added. These include more resistance to damage from heat, spilled gasoline, water, and oxygen.