Researchers use lobster shells to create biodegradable golf ball

Mar 30, 2011

Golfers on the high seas can breathe a little easier -- and so can the marine life around them -- thanks to researchers at the University of Maine. In conjunction with The Lobster Institute, UMaine Biological and Chemical Engineering Professor David Neivandt and undergraduate student Alex Caddell of Winterport, Maine, have developed a biodegradable golf ball made from lobster shells. The ball is intended for use on cruise ships.

Carin Poeschel Orr, who earned a master’s in marine bio-resources at UMaine, suggested the idea to Bob Bayer of The Lobster Institute. Bayer turned to Neivandt, who is known on campus as an innovative problem-solver.

Though biodegradable already exist, this is the first to be made with crushed lobster shells with a biodegradable binder and coating, creating value from waste material.

“We’re using a byproduct of the lobster canning industry which is currently miserably underutilized — it ends up in a landfill,” Neivandt says. “We’re employing it in a value-added consumer product which hopefully has some cachet in the market.”

And that cachet doesn’t come with a higher price tag. Biodegradable golf balls that are now on the market retail for a little under $1 per ball. The raw materials for the lobster shell balls cost as little as 19 cents per ball.

Caddell, a golfer, says the balls perform similarly to their traditional, white-dimpled counterparts. And they can be used with both drivers and irons.

“The flight properties are amazing,” Caddell 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.”

UMaine has filed a provisional patent for the lobster-shell mixture, which can also be used for such products as plant pots that decompose in the ground, surveying stakes and other applications.

For Caddell, a junior Biological Engineering major and Honors student, the opportunity to do research that has a real-world application has been a highlight of his UMaine experience.

“I didn’t really think it would turn out to be this fruitful,” Caddell says. “I think what really makes UMaine great is that there is a lot of funding available here, as opposed to private schools where it’s hard to get research opportunities. Here, all sorts of professors are willing to take on students. You’re not just taking classes, you can be surrounded by engineering by doing research, as well.”

Explore further: Why Captain America's shield is basically a star-spangled supercapacitor

Provided by University of Maine

4.7 /5 (3 votes)

Related Stories

Modern society made up of all types

Nov 04, 2010

Modern society has an intense interest in classifying people into ‘types’, according to a University of Melbourne Cultural Historian, leading to potentially catastrophic life-changing outcomes for those typed – ...

King of the (lunar) road

Mar 30, 2011

The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s moon buggy may not go from 0 to 60 in five seconds, but it can handle the lunar regolith like nobody’s business. And that’s no small feat, says mechanical ...

Nostalgia could be linked to feeling left out

Nov 10, 2010

Sometimes you just want to watch a rerun of your favorite old TV show or eat a favorite childhood treat. Well, a new study led by two researchers from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows that ...

Recommended for you

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

13 hours ago

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...

A beautiful, peculiar molecule

17 hours ago

"Carbon is peculiar," said Nobel laureate Sir Harold Kroto. "More peculiar than you think." He was speaking to a standing-room-only audience that filled the Raytheon Amphitheater on Monday afternoon for the ...

Metals go from strength to strength

Apr 15, 2014

To the human hand, metal feels hard, but at the nanoscale it is surprisingly malleable. Push a lump of metal with brute force through a right-angle mould or die, and while it might look much the same to the ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ereneon
5 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2011
I wonder if these could trigger a shellfish allergy. I guess as long as they are coated, or processed the right way, it should be alright.
panorama
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
I wonder if these could trigger a shellfish allergy. I guess as long as they are coated, or processed the right way, it should be alright.

Good question. I know that most people who are allergic to peanuts can still consume peanut oil as the allergens are in the solids of the peanut, maybe this is similar. The allergens that would cause a reaction might only be in the proteins of the shellfish.
resinoth
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
"Golfers on the high seas can breathe a little easier -- and so can the marine life around them -- thanks to researchers at the University of Maine. "

makes killing lobsters more profitable. Doesn't seem like a boon for lobsters to me.

More news stories

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs.

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...