They won’t make your swing as smooth as butter, but they might ease your conscience after you’ve whacked a few of them into the water.
Yes, we’re referring to environmentally friendly golf balls, made from crushed lobster shells by scientists at the University of Maine — where else?
The scientists are excited because the balls, which fly almost as far as traditional golf balls, fully dissolve within one week after landing in the bisque, er, water.
Seriously, this will be great news if the product is widely accepted. The balls, which initially will be offered for sale to the cruise ship industry, are made from shells discarded by Maine’s lobster-canning industry. The shells are cooked and blended with a natural bonding element.
This creates value for waste and the best part for consumers is, raw materials for a single ball cost only about 19 cents, so the lobster-shell balls will sell for considerably less than the going rate of about $1 for other biodegradable golf balls now on the market.
“We’re using a byproduct of the lobster-canning industry which is currently miserably underutilized — it ends up in a landfill,” said David Neivandt, chief developer of the golf balls. “We’re employing it in a value-added consumer product which hopefully has some cachet in the market.”
Alex Caddell, an undergraduate student who helped develop the lobster-shell balls, said their “flight properties are amazing” and added that they can be struck with equal effectiveness with drivers and irons.
The University of Maine has filed a provisional patent for its lobster-shell mixture, which also can be used to make other products, such as plant pots that eventually dissolve in the ground.
As for the lobster-shell balls, because they don’t fly as far as top brands, they might simply become a novelty for everyday golfers. But, of course, they’ll do in a pinch.
– Images of scientist Alex Caddell displaying one of the lobster-shell balls (top) and a ball’s lobster logo are courtesy of the University of Maine