Researchers at Spain’s University of Alicante are addressing high levels of agricultural waste by using it in car parts. Head researcher María Carmen Garrigós told FreshFruitPortal.com that the work, named Project Barbara, places new value in agricultural residue.
The team works to incorporate parts of fruits and vegetables into things like dashboards and car doors, among other things. They do this by breaking down parts of the products and fusing them with already-existing materials.
Through 3D technology, said Garrigós, they “create car parts and construct mechanical devices that work better". According to Garrigós, the project uses lemons, pomegranates, broccoli and almond skins. Additives extracted from these agricultural products protect car parts and make them more stable, he explained. For instance, the properties of almond skin provided a structure similar to wood in strength, detailed Garrigós.
Currently, the team uses fruits and vegetables like to create natural colors for cars. This provides a different kind of color than the typical synthetics. “Organic products could also be used for their natural colors and fragrances.
Through antimicrobial activation, things like carrots and oranges could be used," she explained. In addition, lemon residue can be used to make materials that give off a nice smell that could be useful for car manufacturers and rental places. Even corn contains polysaccharides, which can be used to improve the properties of some parts. She also added that these products often create a lot of waste in the region. This is why the team chose these specific produce items. Barbara began in May 2017. With plans to finish in April of 2020, it was financed by a program in the EU called BBI JU (Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking). The project is a collaboration of various research groups in the university and the technological center Aitiip.