A research team at the University of Maine has developed a new variety of eco-friendly golf ball. The golf balls are made from ground lobster shell, a refuse byproduct from Maine’s lobster canning industry. They begin to dissolve in a little more than a week when submerged in water.
According to the Bangor Daily News, the eco-friendly balls are nearly indistinguishable from the common synthetic variety. “The weight’s the same. The size is the same,” said David Neivandt, the engineering professor who helped design the ball. “It flies straight when hit.”
“It drives like a real golf ball, and it sounds like a real golf ball [when hit],” added Bob Bayer, executive director of UMaine’s nonprofit Lobster Institute. “[But] if you look at a cross section, it’s very pink.”
Other biodegradable golf balls do exist, but they can be too lightweight to fly as well as a synthetic ball and too fragile to withstand a hit from a driver. Averaging a pricetag of $1 per ball, many golfers also find these alternative biodegrade-a-balls too expensive. UMaine’s lobster balls can be used with both drivers and irons, and production costs for the lobster balls total less than 20 cents each.
A primary goal of the project aimed to help diversify Maine’s lobster industry. By utilizing ground lobster shells, the golf balls will boost the value of a lobster fisher’s catch and reduce waste at canning facilities. “What we’re trying to do is take that waste stream and create a value-added product from it,” Neivandt said.
Neivandt and his team suggest that the ground shell material can be used in other products such as biodegradable flower pots. The University hopes to patent the lobster golf balls and begin marketing them within a few years.
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