It’s hard to use the words lobster and golf in the same sentence. Engineers have given us a reason to. Let’s take a look, today on Engineering Works!
The story starts on a cruise ship, where golfing passengers used to work out on the ships’ driving range. Driving golf balls into the ocean. Great fun for the golfers, but the golf balls usually ended up in the ocean.
Dumping plastic into the ocean was banned more than 30-years ago. Since golf balls are largely plastic, that meant no more onboard driving ranges.
Bioengineers in Maine teamed up with a fishing industry group, the Lobster Institute, to come up with a process that turns shell fragments left over after lobster meat is canned, into golf balls. Details of how they do it are confidential until the patent they’ve applied for comes through. The balls perform almost identically to real golf balls, the engineers say. Close enough to use on a driving range, anyway.
And they’re biodegradable. Once in the ocean, they sink the bottom and dissolve away in weeks. They’ll even dissolve eventually if you lose one in the woods, just not as quickly. And one of the best parts: they’re inexpensive to make. About 19 cents each, compared to about a dollar apiece for more conventional biodegradable golf balls.
We don’t golf, but these still sound pretty nifty. See you next time.
Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web.
Start the discussion: It’s easy to laugh at this kind of thing: I’m neither a golfer nor a fan of going on cruises. But a lot of people like to golf and go on cruises and this helps them do what they like to do. Would you use lobster-shell golf balls?