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Plastics


— Environment

Metabolix engineers plants to make cheaper, cleaner bioplastic

By - August 6, 2013
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

By - January 17, 2013 2 Pictures
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

By - November 13, 2012 2 Pictures
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
— Environment

Sea Chair Project harvests plastic from the oceans to create furniture

By - August 20, 2012 13 Pictures
You may have heard about the huge floating islands of garbage swirling around in the middle of the Earth's oceans. Much of that waterlogged rubbish is made up of plastic and, like Electrolux with its concept vacuum cleaners, U.K.-based Studio Swine and Kieren Jones are looking to put that waste to good use. As part of an ambitious project, they’ve come up with a system to collect plastic debris and convert it into furniture. Read More

The shell of your next device could be made of paper ... partly

It’s possible that your next laptop computer could contain parts of your present-day notebook ... not your notebook computer, mind you, but your actual notebook. At least, it will if China's PEGA Design and Engineering has anything to say about it. The company’s new Paper PP Alloy, made from a combination of recycled paper and polypropylene, is intended for use in the shells of consumer electronic devices. Read More
— Good Thinking

Mathematical model could streamline the development of new plastics

By - September 30, 2011
When it comes to the development of new plastics, two things have generally happened – a plastic is created and then a use is found for it, or a long trial-and-error process is undertaken in order to create a plastic with specific qualities. In a move that has been described as “comparable to cracking a plastics DNA,” however, scientists at the University of Leeds and Durham University have created a mathematical model that should allow specialty plastics to be created much more quickly and efficiently. Read More
— Environment

Tough plastic film made from waste chicken feathers

By - April 4, 2011
At last week’s 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, a number of institutions presented their research into possible new sources of eco-friendly bioplastic, including everything from fruit fiber to bone meal. On the final day of the event, one other idea was put forward – bioplastic made from waste chicken feathers. While this particular source material has been tried only semi-successfully in the past, the researchers claim that this time, the chicken plastic should take flight. Read More
— Environment

Fruit fibers used to create 'green' plastic for cars

By - March 30, 2011
A research team from Brazil has developed a new form of plant fiber-based plastic that is claimed to be stronger, lighter, and more eco-friendly than plastics currently in use. Team leader Alcides Leão says that some of the so-called nano-cellulose fibers can be almost as stiff as Kevlar, but that the plastic differs from many in widespread use because the source material – such as pineapple and banana – is completely renewable. The researchers say that current production efforts are centered around the manufacture of automotive plastics, but future development could see steel and aluminum being replaced. Read More
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