Computational creativity and the future of AI

Recycling

Packing peanuts may be good for more than just ... packing  (Photo: Shutterstock)

When a new lab was recently being set up at Purdue University in Indiana, a lot of the equipment arrived in boxes full of protective packing "peanuts." Unfortunately, few facilities exist for recycling the little pieces of foam, so they typically end up sitting in (or getting blown around) landfills for several decades. A team of Purdue researchers, however, discovered that they could find use in better-performing lithium-ion batteries.  Read More

Microbial fuel cells turn urine into a constant flow of electrical power

Human urine has been turned into all sorts of things over the centuries. Alchemists distilled phosphorous from it, it was once used for the production of gunpowder, tanners employed it in great vats to tan hides, and it has served as the basis of a myriad chemical substances, including the first types of plastics. Now yet another use for this ubiquitous liquid has been created. Researchers working at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have built a urinal that converts urine directly into electricity.  Read More

Researchers in Spain have developed new, high-performance acoustic insulation material fro...

Homes may one day benefit from improved acoustic insulation with an orange flavor after researchers in Spain managed to turn waste material from orange trees into high-performance acoustic insulation. The new material is more environmentally friendly to produce and an improvement in terms of acoustic insulation compared to conventional laminated gypsum boards.  Read More

From trike, to balance bike to pedal bike (C.C. Weiss/Gizmag.com)

New Zealand-based Wishbone Design has offered a versatile, 3-in-1 child's grow bike for several years. Last year, it made headlines by launching a model made from recycled carpet alongside its traditional wooden model. Now it's adding a modular pedal drivetrain to make the transforming bike even more versatile for growing children.  Read More

A new line of partially recycled alkaline batteries from Energizer could pave the way to g...

Energizer has announced a new line of high-performance AA and AAA alkaline batteries that are in part made by recycling old cells, in what's claimed to be an industry first. Although currently only four percent of the battery comes from recovered materials, the plan for the company is to grow that percentage tenfold over the next 10 years and eventually use recycled materials in all its future cells.  Read More

An item made from the agave bagasse/plastic composite

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

One ton of mineral paper can be created from 235 kg of pellets or PET beads

A group of young entrepreneurs from Mexico has developed a system that converts PET bottles into mineral paper and which they claim will save up to 20 trees and 56,000 liters of water per ton of paper produced. The photodegradable, waterproof paper can be used to print books, boxes and general stationery.  Read More

Discarded plastic items await recycling (Photo: Shutterstock)

A Mexican startup Ak Inovex has developed a new method of recycling plastic that does away with water and only consumes half the energy of previous systems. At the same time, it produces plastic pellets of equal or better quality,  resulting in an environmentally friendlier process that also promises to be significantly cheaper.  Read More

A commercial-scale plant to demonstrate a process for recovering metals from PAL packaging...

You may not know what they're called, but odds are you've eaten or drunk something from them. I'm referring to plastic-aluminum laminate (PAL) packaging, which has long been used for toothpaste tubes and in recent years has gained popularity in food, drink and pet food packaging. Although it threatens to approach the ubiquity of the aluminum can or plastic bottle, PAL packaging lacks the familiar recyclable logo found on cans and bottles. But that could be set to change, with a process to recover the metals contained in PAL packaging, developed some 15 years ago by researchers at the University of Cambridge, now being demonstrated in a full commercial-scale plant.  Read More

A microscope image of CNF fibers made via the new process (Image: Edinburgh Napier Univers...

While we hear a lot about the wonders of materials like graphene and carbon nanotubes, nanofibrillated cellulose (aka: Cellulose NanoFibrils, or CNF) also shows a lot of promise. A type of "nanocellulose", it can be used to produce composite materials that are strong, light, electrically-conductive and oxygen-impervious. Additionally, it uses an existing waste product as its feedstock. Unfortunately its production process is fairly energy-intensive, limiting its widespread use. Thanks to a new technique, however, that may soon no longer be the case.  Read More

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