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Spinifex Makes Condoms Thinner and Stronger

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Nanocellulose extracted from spinifex grass could make condoms as thin as a human hair without any loss in strength. “The great thing about our nanocellulose is that it’s a flexible nano-additive, so we can make a stronger and thinner membrane that is supple and flexible,” said Prof Darren Martin of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at The University of Queensland.

“We tested our latex formulation on a commercial dipping line in the United States and conducted a burst test that inflates condoms and measures the volume and pressure, and on average got a performance increase of 20% in pressure and 40% in volume compared to the commercial latex control sample,” he said.

“With a little more refinement, we think we can engineer a latex condom that’s about 30% thinner, and will still pass all standards, and with more process optimisation work we will be able to make devices even thinner than this. Late last year we were able to get down to about 45 microns on our very first commercial dipping run, which is around the width of the hair on your head.”

Martin said the benefits of the nanocellulose technology would interest latex manufacturers across the multi-billion-dollar global market. “Rather than looking at increasing the strength, companies would be looking to market the thinnest, most satisfying prophylactic possible...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.