Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Biodegradable

Artist's concept of ESA's POP3D printer (Image: Altran)

ESA is set to send a 3D printer up to the International Space Station (ISS) for a preliminary round of orbital testing in the first half of next year. The Portable On-Board Printer (POP3D), was designed and manufactured in Italy and will be one of the focusses of ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti's Futura mission. The results of the study will be instrumental in informing us on the potential uses of 3D printing in microgravity.  Read More

Brothers and company co-founders Daniel and Markus Freitag (hard to say which one is which...

We've already got biodegradable shoes and bikinis, but how about just regular ol' shirts and pants? Well, while existing natural materials such as cotton and wool will biodegrade under the right conditions, Zurich-based clothing manufacturer Freitag is producing clothing made from fabric that's specifically designed for quick and easy composting.  Read More

Mushrooms grown in used diapers help reduce waste volume by up to 80 percent

While the contents of a diaper could easily be considered an environmental hazard by many, disposable diapers themselves pose a more significant problem for the environment. According to the EPA, the average baby will work their way through 8,000 of them before the underwear makes its way to landfill, where it takes centuries to break down. In an effort to reduce the problem, scientists at Mexico's Autonomous Metropolitan University, Azcapotzalco (UAM-A), have turned used diapers to the task of growing mushrooms.  Read More

Inventor Josh Malone claims that it's possible to fill 100 Bunch O Balloons every minute

Making a water bomb (or water balloon) can be a laborious and time-consuming process. Unless you have Bunch O Balloons, a system for filling 100 balloons with water in under a minute.  Read More

Fiber made from cellulose claimed to be as strong as steel

A team of researchers working at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology claim to have developed a way to make cellulose fibers stronger than steel on a strength-to-weight basis. In what is touted as a world first, the team from the institute's Wallenberg Wood Science Center claim that the new fiber could be used as a biodegradable replacement for many filament materials made today from imperishable substances such as fiberglass, plastic, and metal. And all this from a substance that requires only water, wood cellulose, and common table salt to create it.  Read More

Protein from silkworm cocoons has been used to create strong yet biodegradable bone fixati...

Silk is an amazingly strong material, yet it also harmlessly biodegrades when left in the body. This has led to its use in experimental brain implants, heart patches, and even bio-electronics. According to a new study conducted by scientists at Tufts University School of Engineering and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, it may now also find use in the production of better plates and screws used for securing broken bones.  Read More

Bioinspired magnetically propelled helical microswimmers could deliver drugs at the right ...

If you remember the 1966 science fiction film Fantastic Voyage, you'll recall how miniaturized government agents traveled through blood vessels in a tiny submarine, in their attempt remove a blood clot from a scientist's brain. Synthetic nanomotors that can do the same job have been the subject of numerous research efforts and now University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers report that they've created powerful biodegradable "microswimmers" that can deliver drugs more precisely, derived from common plants like passion fruit and wild banana.  Read More

Eden's Paper wrapping paper contains seeds which grow into vegetables once planted (Photo:...

As the holiday season gets into full swing, one inevitable byproduct of the widespread cheer will be masses of waste wrapping paper. One interesting idea to reduce this comes via Eden's Paper, which is billed as a "100 percent plantable wrapping paper," and can be used to grow vegetables by simply placing the paper into some soil, adding water, and waiting for nature to do its thing.  Read More

Metabolix is genetically engineering switchgrass to produce bioplastic and chemicals.

Petroleum-based plastic may be fantastic, but due to the durability that makes the material so popular it may take hundreds of years to break down. Plastic made from renewable biomass, known as bioplastic, is a biodegradable alternative to fossil fuel versions. A company called Metabolix, based in Cambridge (MA), has been working on a technology to genetically engineer plants such as switchgrass to create a biodegradable polymer that can be extracted directly from the plant.  Read More

The Polyplane and the Samara are disposable UAVs designed to help monitor forest fires (Ph...

The term "UAV" generally leads us to think about expensive, high-tech military drones like General Atomics' Predator, but a Robotics team led by Dr. Paul Pounds at Australia's University of Queensland has created a pair of UAVs that are so cheap and easy to manufacture that they'll literally be disposable, single use items. One's basically a high-tech paper plane, while the other follows the form factor of a maple seed with both designed to help save lives in the event of a forest fire.  Read More

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