The Dow Chemical Co. and Cargill formed Cargill Dow Polymers LLC to develop and market polylactic acid (PLA) polymers. The PLA polymers are derived from renewable agricultural resources, such as corn or sugar beets. They are composed of chains of latic acid, a natural food ingredient, which can be produced by converting starch into sugar, then fermenting it to yield lactic acid. Water is removed to form lactide, which is converted into the PLA resins using a solvent-free polymerization. "Polylatic acid technology has the potential to provide a new product platform to compete with hydrocarbon-based thermoplastics, such as polyethylene, polystyrene, and polypropylene," says Jim Stoppert, president of the LLC. Like polyethylene terephtalate (PET), the polymers resist grease and oil and offer a flavor and odor barrier. They also provide for heat sealability at lower temperatures than polyolefin sealant resins, according to Stoppert. Contact Dow Customer Information Group at (800) .
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.