We all know Maine is synonymous with lobsters and our abundance of these spiny, spiders of the sea but third-year, biological engineering student, Alex Caddell, has found a new way to use these creatures. Caddell has invented a useable golf ball made out of recycled lobster shells mixed with a glue-like substance.
This innovative creation was actually graduate student Carin Poeschel’s idea who worked for the Director of Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, Bob Bayer. Dr. Bayer brought the idea to Dr. Neivandt who then enlisted Caddell to turn the idea into a viable and marketable product.
The actual construction of the golf ball is a two-piece product. The first step is to mold the core of the golf ball, “Steel golf ball molds are then used to mod the entire golf ball, resulting in a golf ball with the same dimensions and dimple pattern as a regular golf ball,” Caddell explained.
These biodegradable golf balls are designed to sink in water and degrade within weeks, dependent upon the ocean’s depth and water temperature. Not only would these golf balls be able to biodegrade in salt water but they also hold the same capabilities in fresh water and even if lost out in the depths of the great Maine woods.
The idea for this creation came in order to build a green, recycle product that helped to use all parts of the lobster, a Maine industry that is heavily exported. Caddell’s team gets the lobster shells from a lobster cannery in Canada, “This cannery actually processes lobster caught in Maine, so the shells that are used in the golf balls do indeed come from Maine,” Caddell said.
One of the biggest challenges Caddell faced was the instability of some of the team’s initial designs, “I would think that I had a working prototype only to find out a week later that it no longer had the same physical/mechanical properties that were needed. So designing a product with a “shelf life” was definitely one of the biggest obstacles I faced,” Caddell said.
The Winterport native and outdoor enthusiast has received an enormous amount of press coverage for his pioneering work; he has done multiple phone and television interviews ranging from local news stations to the Associated Press and even the Discovery Channel. Caddell and his team have been featured in the Boston Globe, Yahoo News, The Chicago Tribune and ABC News.
While Caddell still has another year left to complete here at Maine it’s no doubt that he will continue to create exciting new ventures. He is currently looking into graduate schools, hoping to pursue some sort of degree in biomedical engineering.
Caddell commented on his ideal dream job saying, “While working on this project I have seen the potential for a great deal of ‘green engineering’ that can be done with a biological engineering degree. I have always been interested in somehow using biological engineering to try and solve environmental issues, so a dream job for me would be anything that allows me to turn this interest into a career.”
And there is no doubt he will. This isn’t the last we’ve heard from the creative mind of Alex Caddell.
Photo Credit: AP/ Robert F. Bukaty