Maine team creates lobster golf balls

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April 17, 2011, 10:02 pm
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(NECN: Marnie MacLean) -  Last year, Maine fishermen hauled in 90 million pounds of lobster. Half of that catch goes to processing plants where they keep the meat and toss the shells into the trash.
            
But a team from the University of Maine in Orono has figured out how to use those discarded shells and turn them into golf balls.

"The initial idea was to combine shells with something and return it to the ocean, found a way to make that happen," said David Neivandt.

It took nine months of research and trial and error before David Neivandt and one of his students could claim success.

"This is an example of what we end up with in the middle of the ball."

Once they have the shell core, they use other biodegradable materials to make the outside. It all goes into a mold they bought on Ebay. It looks like a regular golf ball, bounces like one...and for the most part hits like one.

"We're taking a throw away product," said Robert Bayer with the Maine Lobster Institute. "Lobster shells, and we're adding value, giving value to something that goes into a landfill."

In water, these golf balls will biodegrade within a few weeks, a bit longer if they are on land.

They can withstand multiple hits with an iron, just one from a driver, but the developers see several potential markets.

They are hoping to find a manufacturer willing to produce the balls on a large scale, and they are also investigating other potential products from the lobster shells, like this flower pot.

Long term, they see many uses for the discarded shells, which helps the environment and they hope, will increase the value of the lobster for fishermen. A regular golf ball may be able to travel a longer distance, but you can't eat it.

"It's made from edible materials so you had a nice tub of clarified butter you could eat the whole ball."

After a frustrating day on the back 9 that might not seem like a bad option.

Tags: maine, Marnie MacLean, lobster, university of maine, golf balls
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