Cientistas brasileiros apresentaram hoje (29/03/2011), na Califórnia, suas descobertas sobre o plástico produzido a partir da fibra da banana e do abacaxi, mais resistentes, leves e sustentáveis, eles querem que este material seja usado para fabricação de automóveis.
Segue o artigo da Wired, que eu desistir de fazer um post traduzido por ter certo conteúdo técnico:
Researchers are going bananas in the quest to build cleaner, greener cars.
Brazilian scientists have developed a way of using fibers from bananas, pineapples and other plants to create plastic that is stronger and lighter than the petroleum-based stuff. So-called nanocellulose fibers rival Kevlar in strength but are renewable, and the researchers believe they could be widely used within a couple of years.
“The properties of these plastics are incredible,” Alcides Leão, a researcher at Sao Paulo State University, said in a statement. “They are light, but very strong — 30 percent lighter and three to four times stronger.”
That could reduce the weight of new vehicles, which would increase fuel economy. Several automakers are cutting weight in their campaigns to maximize mpg. Ford, for example, hopes to trim 250 to 750 pounds from its vehicles and is exploring nanotechnology to do so.
Beyond being lighter and stronger, Leão says nanocellulosic plastic is more resistant to heat, gasoline and water. He sees it being used for dashboards, bumpers and some body panels.
Cellulose comprises the primary cell wall of green plants. Intensive processing of wood and other plant materials yields nanocellulosic fibers so small that 50,000 fit within the diameter of a human hair. These fibers can be added to other raw materials to produce reinforced plastic.
Leão tells us the nanocellulosic plastic is made entirely of renewable materials and is biodegradable. The nanocellulose could be combined with petroleum-based plastic if a specific application required it, he says, but the resulting product would not be biodegradable.
Pineapple may be the most promising source of nanocellulose, Leão says. Others include bananas, coconut shells, agave and curaua, a plant related to pineapple. The leaves and stems are cooked in a device similar to a pressure cooker, yielding something resembling talcum powder.
It’s expensive stuff, but there’s no word on just how much the nanocellulosic plastic costs because Leão and his team are working in small quantities in the laboratory. Leão says the cost would come down as the scale of production rose, especially if the auto industry embraced the technology. One pound of nanocellulose can produce 100 pounds of plastic.
“So far, we’re focusing on replacing automotive plastics,” Leão says. “But in the future, we may be able to replace steel and aluminum automotive parts using these plant-based nanocellulose materials.”
Leão presented his findings today at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California.
Esta não é a primeira vez que tecnologias com base em alimentos são utilizadas no setor de veículos. Um carro de corrida abastecido com material a base de chocolate foi construído em uma universidade britânicae apresentado em uma conferência no MIT. Trata-se do Lola Formula 3, com componentes fabricados a partir da cenoura, batata e linho.
Segue a matéria feita sobre ele:
Chocolate-Powered Racecar Presented at MIT Conference
Everybody loves green technology. A lot of the new production models and concept cars use green technology, have reduced fuel consumption, low CO2 emissions and are meant to save the planet. As the future seems to be electric, car manufacturers need to get their technology on the market. As studies in this area continue, were are astonished from time to time by the people’s creativity.
This time, it is a Formula 3 racing car powered by leftover chocolate. Lola’s components are fabricated from carrots, potato starch and flax. According to planetark.org, the car can go from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, has a top speed of 135 mph (220 km/h) and has… brake pads made from cashews, which are still under development.
The car is England’s University of Warwick’s project and the world’s first racing car retrofitted with renewable and sustainable materials. The project was shown at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) energy conference in Boston.
“She’s incredibly green, taking materials that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill. It lets people engage with recycling without the finger-wagging,” said Kerry Kirwan, one of the car’s designers at the university. “The public has really taken the car to its heart, because she’s fun,” he said.
The car uses a modified 2 liter BMW engine that has been converted to diesel from gasoline and configured to run on fuel derived from waste from chocolate factories or other plant-based oils. Another impressive feature is a radiator that converts ozone back to oxygen.
“It’s a racing car that cleans up as it goes along,” said Steve Maggs, another member of the design team.
Nine months were needed to develop this car and it costs $200,000.