In Delicious Science News, Someone Made a Drone From Pineapple Leaves

In Delicious Science News, Someone Made a Drone From Pineapple Leaves
Image: Reuters

Pineapples are down-right delicious and now they have a new function. Drones! A research team in Malaysia has found a way for pineapple waste to be turned into lightweight bio-degradable drone parts.

How a pineapple becomes a drone

The project is focused on finding sustainable uses for pineapple waste generated by farmers in the Hulu Langat region, which is just outside Kuala Lumpur.

Because while pineapples may be delicious, their leaves are not so edible. Hence the team has managed to turn the unusable leaf and top parts of pineapples into fibres for constructing drone parts.

“We are transforming the leaf of the pineapple into a fibre that can be used for aerospace application, basically inventing a drone,” Professor Mohamed Thariqu Hameed Sultan from the University of Putra Malaysia (UPM), told Reuters.

Hameed Sultan explained that drones made from bio-composite material have a higher strength-to-weight ratio. They’re also cheaper, lighter and much easier to dispose of than those made from synthetic fibres. For example, if the drone was damaged its frame could be buried and would degrade in two weeks.

According to a release from UPM, the drones have electrical resistance which prevents short-circuiting. They also use rechargeable motors, blades and batteries. Hameed Sultan said that approximately 300g of pineapple leaves could produce four drone plates.

So far the prototype drones have been able to reach a height of 1000m and remain airborne for 20 minutes. You can get an idea of how the drones are made in this video.

Giving back to the local community

Professor Hameed Sultan was approached by local farmers to help them dispose of their pineapple leaves, which had been causing a range of problems.

Often times the piles of discarded leaves would become a home for poisonous animals like lizards or snakes. Other times the leaves needed to be burned to be removed, adding to the pollution in the air.

This project is not only better for the environment but also gives back to the local economy. Local farmers are able to sell their pineapple leaves to bolster their income as opposed to burning them for nothing.

“Our role here is to help the industry, the farmers, to increase their yield and make their jobs much easier,” said William Robert Alvisse of the Malaysian Unmanned Drones Activist Society, an advisor on the project.

The end goal for the team is to develop larger drones that can carry bigger payloads. These can then be used for agricultural activities such as aerial inspections or to spray pesticides.

Locals are hoping that this new development will encourage more clever innovations for the use of waste.