Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Energy Efficiency

Rubber Tree Inspires New Self-Repairing Plastic

researchers in iowa and germany develop new plastic that can self-repairTake the weight advantage of plastic, add the ability to self-repair small cracks before they become big cracks, and you’ve got yourself a durable new material that could improve the lifespan for thousands of ordinary objects, and help to reduce energy demand in vehicles and machines. That’s the idea behind a new kind of self-repairing plastic under development at several research centers around the globe, including the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and Iowa State University here in the U.S.

Rubber Trees and Self-Repairing Plastic

Researchers at Fraunhofer took as their inspiration the rubber tree hevea Brasiliensis. Latex from the tree contains capsules that break open if the tree is damaged. That enables a protein called hevein to escape, which interacts with the latex to seal the wound. Initial tests on a synthetic rubber (synthetic caoutchouc), using microscopic capsules full of a simple adhesive, showed that the natural healing process can be replicated.

Self-Repairing Bioplastic

Meanwhile, over at Iowa State, a research team has upped the ante. Rather than focusing on petroleum based polymers, the team is set on developing a bioplastic with self-healing properties. Bioplastics are a maturing research field, but the idea of applying self-healing properties to a polymer made from vegetable oils is new. Lightweight, self-healing bioplastics could find many uses in aeronautics and other weight-sensitive, high stress applications, so it’s no wonder that the U.S. Department of Defense has chipped in funding for the research.

Image: Rubber tree by jonrawlinson on

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


You May Also Like

Fossil Fuels

“Billions of pounds of plastic cover 40% of our ocean surfaces and we contribute to that,” said Council Member Erik Bottcher. “That’s why I’m...


Coast to Coast Agrivoltaic Research Projects Will Enhance Economic Opportunities for Farmers and Reduce Barriers to Solar Energy Adoption in Rural Communities


The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) a $35 million climate-smart grant to invest in the desert shrub guayule in...

Policy & Politics

Ocean Conservancy scientists estimate that newly passed California law will eliminate 23 million tons of plastics in the next 10 years — equivalent to...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.