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Beer-making malt transformed into a guitar

Liz Guimarães Acoustic properties of a guitar made with plant fibers are similar to those of mahoganyLiz Guimarães

Instead of mahogany, alder, ash or basswood—woods frequently used to make guitar bodies, musician Rodrigo Novaes has developed a new version of that instrument, made with a polymer compound reinforced by an unusual plant fiber: waste from cereal malt that was used in beer-making. In tests, the acoustic properties of the material resembled those of expensive, high-quality mahogany and were slightly superior to those of marupa, a wood used in Brazil to make certain types of guitars. Development of this instrument with an ecological footprint was part of the final project for the industrial design program Novaes completed in 2014 at the School of Fine Arts at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). The material, which combines an epoxy resin base with the malt waste, was presented at the 12th Brazil Design Research and Development Conference held in October 2016. “The idea is to replace the epoxy polymer base with a castor oil-based resin in order to make the composite material completely sustainable,” says Novaes, who has filed a patent application for the compound with the Brazilian Industrial Property Institute (INPI).