New Zealand students to build sports facilities using plants

New Zealand students developed durable materials made from the leaves of a local New Zealand tree, cabbage, and a plant whose seeds are often eaten, flax.

Sustainable materials are manufactured products that limit their damage to the environment and the amount of resources they consume. They support a long-term ecological balance.

The durable material developed by New Zealand students could soon be used to make high-performance outdoor sports equipment such as skis, kayaks and skateboards. Their plan is to replace the traditional materials that are used like fiberglass and carbon. fiber.

Skateboards should be sturdy. Ben Scales and William Murrell are two students at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. They believe they can make them even stronger by using plant fibers.

Uncle Funkys Boards co-owner Jeff Gaites holds a Surfskate, a skateboard, inside his store in Manhattan, New York on March 25, 2021.

After experimenting in their home workshops, they created a new composite material that is natural or made up of different elements.

Scales is 21 and is studying product design. He said their first attempt is looking good.

Scales said their first experimental product was a skateboard. It is 25 percent fiber from a plant called harakeke and 75 percent recycled polylactic acid, which is a plastic made from corn starch.

He said the material is good for making a skateboard because it can withstand the force and shock that skateboards receive better than what skateboards are now made from: wood or carbon fiber. .

The fiber comes from the Harakeke plant, a native New Zealand flax plant. The fiber is mixed with different resins, a product from some trees that can be used to cover a surface or hold objects together. Cabbage leaves are also an important part of their material.

The plan is to use these sustainable materials to make skis, snowboards and kayaks. These outdoor sporting goods are currently made from unnatural materials like fiberglass and carbon fiber.

University students have found interest from potential business partners in other countries.

Scales said some of the companies include companies in Europe that make ski boats and a few overseas. startups looking to shape the personal transportation industry.

He said: “… they are looking to use sustainable materials that are just not available in industries like this. So they want to use our material once we’ve got it ready, which hopefully will be soon. “

If successful, the students could breathe new life into New Zealand’s flax fiber industry. They could also bring back practices used by the natives, the Maoris, before European colonization.

I am Grégory Stachel.

Phil Mercer reported this story for Voice of America. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.

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Words in this story

sustainable – adj. something that can be maintained, and ecologically, a way of working or making something that does not harm the environment

fiber nm a fine thread of natural or man-made material that can be used to make fabric, paper, or other materials

to recycle –V. do something new from (something that has already been used)

starch -not. a substance found in certain foods (such as bread, rice and potatoes)

Start -not. a new business

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