Ariel Schwartz

Airplanes Made From Cork May Soon Take to the Skies

by , 02/04/10

cork, harvested cork, aerocork, wine, portugal, portuguese, green design, eco design, sustainable design, renewable materials

Cork is a useful material for making a number of things — wine bottles, furniture, and cork boards, to name a few–but airplane parts? A group of Portuguese cork producers recently launched the Aerocork project, which is investigating the feasibility of replacing plastic PVC with cork in the fuselage, wings, and flaps of light aircraft. The cork-based parts could be coated in carbon fiber sheets to create a lightweight, fire-retardant material.

cork, harvested cork, aerocork, wine, portugal, portuguese, green design, eco design, sustainable design, renewable materials

So why the sudden interest in cork for planes? Portugal produces over half the world’s cork supply — 157,000 tons each year — and demand is going down as the wine industry increasingly uses cheap plastic stoppers and metal screwtops. If Portugal stops harvesting its massive cork forests, desertification could result.

We’ll find out if cork is a viable aircraft material soon enough — Aerocork plans have a prototype airplane plane ready later this year.

+ Aerocork

Via Treehugger

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4 Comments

  1. Roatesant December 28, 2010 at 6:42 am

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  4. prometheus442 February 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I was aware that the quality of Cork has decreased in quality very much, due to over-harvesting. That’s why most wines are corked with a synthetic material instead. And if you do get wine with natural cork, it will probably break in half and you’ll get bits of cork stuck in your teeth.

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