Get Regular Updates!


Spinifex promises stronger condoms

Spinifex promises stronger condoms

Why condoms, gloves and tyres could benefit from a grassy extra ingredient.

Spinifex promises stronger condoms

Spinifex grass could be used to create thinner, stronger latex for gloves and condoms, as well as more durable seals and tyres, an Australian scientist says.

Advance Queensland research fellow Dr Nasim Amiralian is exploring how to incorporate spinifex-derived nanofibres into natural rubber.

It might be difficult to imagine the spiky grass being comfortable to wear in that way.

But when tiny nanofibres of spinifex are added to rubber, the result is a stronger and more flexible product.

Nasim, who is based at the University of Queensland, says she first discovered spinifex’s potential during her PhD research.

She started out looking at extracting spinifex resin to see if it could be used as a glue or adhesive.

View Larger
Nasim wondered whether spinifex resin could be used as a glue or adhesive

“I found that it has a very complicated chemistry,” Nasim says.

“So I started working with the grass biomass and extracting nanofibres. I found that the nanofibres extracted from these spinifex grasses are very thin and long, they are very flexible.”


Nasim says that, while you can extract nanofibres from any plant, spinifex nanofibres are very easy to extract and very tough.

“It comes back to the specific environmental conditions that spinifex grows in,” she says.

“To be able to survive the hot and dry conditions, its composition is a bit different to the other plants.”

And there’s no shortage of supply.

Spinifex covers a large part of Australia

Spinifex covers a large part of Australia

Nasim says there are 69 species of spinifex grass, and it’s found all over.

“Spinifex is everywhere, it covers 27% of Australia,” she says.

“We have more of this in Western Australia than in North West Queensland.”


So what’s the recipe for spinifex rubber products?

Nasim is working with industry partner Derby Rubber on reinforcing natural rubber for the railway, construction and mining industries.

“I’m working on dry compounded rubber, basically adding these nanofibres to the dry rubber and reinforcing the material”.

Just a small amount of spinifex—less than 5%—is enough to reinforce rubber, polyurethane or another polymer, Nasim says.

Spinifex could also be used to reinforce cement, concrete and cardboard boxes.


Nasim is working hard to optimise the synthesis of the spinifex nanofibres.

And she’s collaborating with people who have used spinifex and its sticky resin for thousands of years—Indigenous Australians.

Indigenous Australians have always made use of spinifex resin

The University of Queensland team and partner Dugalunji Aboriginal Corporation have won funding to commission a nanocellulose pilot plant at the university.

Under an umbrella agreement between the university and the Dugalunji Aboriginal Corporation, all decisions and profits surrounding the venture are shared with Indigenous people in the area.

Nasim says the partnership is providing jobs for Aboriginal trainees, harvesting spinifex grass and working on preliminary processing procedures.

Particle Puns


Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.


You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.


Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.


All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.


For more information about using our content, email us:

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?