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Plastics

Tequila waste combined with recycled plastic to form wood substitute

When the sap from plants such as sugar cane is extracted for commercial use, what's left over is a fibrous material known as bagasse. This is commonly used as biofuel, or is compressed into a wood substitute. Now, Mexican startup Plastinova is using agave bagasse from the tequila industry to make a wood-like material of its own, although it's also incorporating recycled plastic. Read More

New technique automates sorting of plastics for recycling

If you've ever had to separate different types of plastic for recycling, then you'll know how much it slows down the recycling process. Now, imagine how much harder it is for staff receiving huge amounts of unsorted plastic at municipal recycling plants. New technology developed at Ludwig Maximilians Universitat in Munich, however, identifies plastic types automatically. Read More

Science

IBM discovers first new class of polymers in decades

The chemical tree got a bit of a shake this week with scientists at IBM announcing the discovery of the first new class of polymer materials in decades. Discovered using a combination of lab experiments and computer modelling, the new plastics have properties that could potentially have a huge impact in manufacturing, transportation, aerospace, and micro electronics.Read More

Science

Regenerating plastic is better on the "hole"

Dropping your mobile phone can ruin your whole day as you look down at the spiderweb of cracks surrounding a small hole in the once-pristine plastic case. Now imagine watching as those cracks and that hole seal up by themselves, leaving behind a completely healed case. That may sound like science fiction, but it may not be for long with a team of researchers at the University of Illinois having developed a new system that doesn't just repair minor cracks in plastic, but regenerates to heal large holes.Read More

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

3D Printing

The Filabot recycles scrap plastic into inexpensive 3D printing filaments

Desktop 3D printers have hit price-points that make them as affordable as color laser printers. But they also share the same problem – replacing the printing medium costs an arm and a leg. A kilogram of plastic filament costs about US$50, meaning the cost of turning your ideas into reality can quickly add up. But now the Filabot, a miniature plastic recycling plant, will provide a wide variety of plastic filaments from scrap. Read More

Environment

New technique allows scrap rubber to be recycled into high-quality plastic

It's reckoned that most of the 22 million tons of rubber that is processed every year worldwide goes into making vehicle tires and that once rubber products reach the end of their useful lives, for the most part they end up being incinerated. Even when the rubber residues are reclaimed and re-used to make new products, the lack of techniques for producing high-quality materials means that the recyclables are relegated to secondary products such as arena or playground floor coverings or padded doormats. Looking for new ways to optimize the recycling of rubber waste, researchers have developed a material called EPMT that has the desired material properties and characteristics for use in the manufacture of high quality products such as wheel and splashguard covers, handles, knobs and steerable casters.Read More

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