MARCH 31 2011 03:25h
Lobster shells turn into golf balls
The effort was a joint project by the University of Maine and The Lobster Institute, a UMaine release reported Wednesday.
Though biodegradable golf balls already exist, this is the first to be made with crushed lobster shells with a biodegradable binder and coating, creating value from a formerly unused water product, researchers said.
"We're using a byproduct of the lobster canning industry which is currently miserably underutilized -- it ends up in a landfill," biological and chemical engineering Professor David Neivandt said. "We're employing it in a value-added consumer product which hopefully has some cachet in the market."
While biodegradable golf balls currently on the market retail for a about $1 per ball, the raw materials for the lobster shell balls cost as little as 19 cents per ball.
Undergraduate Alex Caddell, who helped develop the ball, said they perform similarly to their traditional, white-dimpled counterparts and can be used with both drivers and irons.
"The flight properties are amazing," Caddell, himself a golfer, says. "It doesn't fly quite as far as a regular golf ball, but we're actually getting a similar distance to other biodegradable golf balls."
The researchers said the lobster-shell mixture can also be used for products like plant pots that decompose in the ground, surveying stakes and other applications.
ORONO, Maine, March 30 (UPI) -- Researchers in Maine say they've found a new use for lobster shells that used to be discarded -- making biodegradable golf balls for use on cruise ships.