University of Maine
"We’re using a byproduct of the lobster canning industry which is currently miserably underutilized — it ends up in a landfill," said David Neivandt, a professor at the University of Maine.
updated 3/31/2011 4:15:24 PM ET 2011-03-31T20:15:24

Golfers on the high seas can breathe a little easier — and so can the marine life around them — thanks to a biodegradable golf ball made from lobster shells. The ball is intended for use on cruise ships and so should lead to fewer regular golf balls ending up in the ocean.

Though biodegradable golf balls already exist, this ball 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," said David Neivandt, a professor of biological and chemical engineering at the University of Maine, in a statement.

The new lobster shell balls should not come with a high price tag, either. Biodegradable golf balls now on the market retail for a little under $1 per ball, and the raw materials for the lobster shell balls cost as little as 19 cents per ball.

Undergraduate student Alex Caddell, a golfer who assisted in the engineering effort, said the balls perform similarly to their traditional, white-dimpled counterparts. The balls are not brittle and can be used with both drivers and irons.

"The flight properties are amazing," Caddell said. "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 University of Maine 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.

This article was provided by InnovationNewsDaily, a sister site of TechNewsDaily.

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