A researcher with the University of Alberta may have found a way to keep cattle waste products out of landfills. David Bressler, an associate professor with the institution's Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science began working to find uses for beef parts contaminated with mad cow disease after the Canadian beef industry was struck with the illness in 2003.
Now Bressler has found a way to use the parts to create plastics that may find their way into vehicle cabins. The process uses proteins derived from infected cow skulls, brains, nerves, eyes, tonsils and spinal cords (ick) that are currently banned from any use at all for fear of spreading infection.
The University of Alberta has a special permit to handle the proteins. By using high temperatures to break down the proteins, Bressler was then able to re-link them with other molecules to create the plastics. The material will need to go through all of the necessary regulatory trials, but its creator hopes to see the plastic in car interiors in as little as 12 months.