Manufacturing of Eco-Friendly Foodware from Plant Leaf Materials

Interdisciplinary Areas: Future Manufacturing

Project Description

The foodware segment is the largest user of plastics, accounting for ∼35% of all plastics usage. Much of this is in single-use applications such as utensils and packaging. Given the deleterious effects of plastics on the environment, there is much effort ongoing to develop sustainable material alternatives for these single-use applications.
The Future Manufacturing project will explore a new paradigm for foodware manufacturing – direct forming of palm-leaf materials in a single-step into final product shapes (e.g., plates, bowls) – with extraordinary sustainability benefits. It builds on preliminary observations that leaf-sheath from areca catechu, a palm variety cultivated for nearly 2000 years, can undergo large shape transformations, in stretch-forming, analogous to sheet metals. To establish the underlying deformation processing science of plant-leaf materials, the project will a) examine the structural basis of the high formability in areca palm; b) identify a broad class of plant-leaf materials with similar high formability; and c) explore scalability of the processing for large-scale foodware production.
Besides technological innovations and creation of a new domestic manufacturing sector, the project, by advancing plant-based materials manufacturing, will be impactful also for the developing world. Employment and Eco-Manufacturing entrepreneurship opportunities will be enhanced for women and traditionally under-represented communities worldwide.

Start Date


Postdoctoral Qualifications

PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Physics, Chemistry or BioSciences
Good experimental and analytical skills


Srinivasan Chandrasekar,, Industrial Engineering (primary)
Laura Pyrak-Nolte – - Physics (secondary)
Kevin Trumble – - Materials Engineering (secondary)

External Collaborators

Dr. James B. Mann – CEO M4 Sciences Corporation –


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4. D.P. Mohanty, A. Udupa, A. R. Anil Chandra, K. Viswanathan, J. B. Mann, K. P. Trumble and S. Chandrasekar, Mechanical Behavior and High Formability of Palm Leaf Materials, Advanced Energy and Sustainability Research, 2021.