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Biodegradable

Environment

Metabolix engineers plants to make cheaper, cleaner bioplastic

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

Aircraft

Steerable paper planes and maple seeds the basis for life-saving, disposable UAVs

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

Science

Edible electronic medical devices could be swallowed like regular pills

Over the past several years, scientists have developed so-called “camera pills,” that can be swallowed by patients and then transmit video from within their bodies. While such non-digestible gadgets could serve as an invaluable means of imaging, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are now looking into tiny electronic medical devices that could be swallowed and partially digested, providing non-invasive treatment in the process. Read More

Environment

PUMA launches biodegradable InCycle collection

Sportswear giant PUMA is pushing its sustainability credentials with a new range of products that are either recyclable or biodegradable. Called InCycle, the "closed-loop" collection includes footwear, apparel and accessories that, rather than being tossed in the garbage at the end of their life-cycle, can be returned under the company's "Bring Me Back Program."Read More

Electronics

"BITE ME" LED desk lamp makes a colorful end-of-life snack

When it comes to a light meal, Victor Vetterlein's "BITE ME" desk lamp has got you covered. The body of the brightly colored creation is made from bio-plastic that can be safely consumed at the end of its useful life. If eating lamps doesn't start your digestive juices flowing, the frame can also be thrown in the compost. Either way, the rather attractive electronics strip can be peeled away from the body and re-used elsewhere. Read More

Environment

Eco-toothbrush made from bamboo to hit the market early 2013

North Dakota siblings Heather and John McDougall have created an eco-toothbrush which according to them “will be the first toothbrush you will actually care about.” Having grown up with a dentist as a father, the pair have merged their backgrounds in design and policy to create the Bogobrush, which they claim to be “100 percent biodegradable.”Read More

Electronics

"Transient electronics" dissolve once they're not needed

We’ve certainly been hearing a lot lately about tiny electronic devices that can do things such as delivering medication after being implanted in the body, measuring structural stress upon being attached to a bridge, or monitoring pollution after being placed in the environment. In all of these cases, the device has to be retrieved once it’s served its purpose, or just left in place indefinitely. Now, however, an interdisciplinary team of researchers have demonstrated “transient electronics,” which dissolve into nothing after a pre-determined amount of time.Read More

Good Thinking

Sprout ... a living plant from a dying pencil

We live in a throwaway society, where even large and expensive products are merely trashed when they reach the end of their life and/or usefulness. It's a rather sad state of affairs, with waste that could be recycled or reused extensively placed in the ground to rot ... or, in the case of non-biodegradable materials, not rot. It's against this rather depressing backdrop that one group of product designers have created Sprout, an ordinary, everyday pencil which hides a rather special trick up its sleeve.Read More

Can starch fibers solve the bandage conundrum?

Should you rip it off fast or slow? Researchers at Penn State may have found the elusive third, painless option. Professor Greg Ziegler and research assistant Lingyan Kong have developed a process that spins starch into fine strands, creating fibers that could be woven into low-cost toilet paper, napkins and biodegradable bandages that don't need to be ripped off at all.Read More

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