New Space Age Material Made From… Carrots?

“Carbon fiber has long been considered one of those space age materials often reserved for high-end sports cars, the space shuttle and other products out of reach for the average consumer.

Despite the high price tag associated with manufacturing carbon fiber, it is one of the lightest and strongest materials currently manufactured. But what if it wasn’t?

A new product, known as Curran, could be the answer and could make widespread production of a carbon fiber-esque material much more feasible both fiscally and ecologically.

Curran (which is Gaelic for carrot by the way) is a new material made from the extracted cellulose of root vegetables such as carrots, turnips and sugar beets. Cellulose is the structural component of plant cells that gives them rigidity and a couple of scientists (along with a Scottish material manufacturer) have figured out how to cleanly and efficiently extract cellulose and create an entirely new class of organic material that could replace materials such as carbon fiber and glass in the near future.

Carbon fiber is light, but Curran is even lighter; albeit not by very much. That said, Curran is twice as strong as carbon fiber. The current manufacturing process allows Curran to be applied as a coating or formed into sheets but the development team also hopes to create super strong thread from the material in the near future.

Curran was developed by two material scientists – Dr. David Hepworth and Dr. Eric Whale – in conjunction with CelluComp; located near Edinburgh, Scotland. The material marks a significant improvement over traditional materials made from wood and cotton because it can be extracted very efficiently and because it is so strong compared to similar materials.”

Thanks again to Richard for this tip. Ideally, scientists could figure out how to use waste products such as saw dust and sugar cane waste instead of using valuable food products.

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