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) .
A group of researchers at the Seoul National University have discovered a way to take material from cigarette butts and turn it into a carbon-based material thats ideal for storing energy and creating a powerful supercapacitor.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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