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Car made of fruit? It sounds bananas...

Cars made from pineapples and bananas could soon be among the fruits of the green revolution, it was revealed today.

Scientists in Brazil have used fibres from the plants to create a new generation of super-strong automotive plastics.

They believe the material may in future not only be used to build car bodies, but also engine parts.

Manufacturers are already testing the plastics and could be using them in cars within two years, say the researchers.

Dr Alcides Leao, from Sao Paulo State University, said reinforcing plastic with microscopic fibres from delicate fruits such as pineapples and bananas made them super-strong.



bumpers

"The properties of these plastics are incredible," he told the 241st meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California.

"They are light, but very strong -- 30pc 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."

Some of the fibres were almost as stiff as Kevlar, the super-strong material used to make bullet-proof vests and lightweight armour, he said.

hnews@herald.ie