- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - A researcher at Clemson University is studying whether small particles of wood can be made into composite materials to make stronger vehicle bumpers and fenders.

The advantage? When the parts wear out, they would end up in the compost pile instead of the junkyard.

Local media outlets report that Srikanth Pilla, an associate professor in Clemson’s Department of Automotive Engineering, is working with U.S. Forest Service researchers in Madison, Wisconsin, on the five-year project funded with a half-million dollar grant.

The idea is to take tiny strands of material from trees felled during reforestation projects and use them in composite materials. The material is 20,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Pilla says the composites would be less likely to sustain damage or break during collisions.

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