Environmental themes have been strong at the K Fairs for at least 15 years. This year new bioplastics moved front and center. One of the most interesting new products comes from Novamont, which is showing a tire in which bioplastics made from starch replace some of the carbon black and silica used in automobile tires. The new material is aid to provide better grip on roads by reducing “rolling resistance” 30 per cent, according to development partner Goodyear. The result is improved fuel efficiency. Tread wear and noise pollution are also said to be reduced with the new compound. Goodyear anticipates he tire will cost the same as traditional tires. The first user is expected to be BMW, which is also a development partner. Goodyear received a 3 million euro ($4.3 million) grant from the European Commission to develop the new tire.
Dow Chemical and several other companies have launched a program in Omaha, Neb. to divert about 36 tons of plastics from landfills in its first phase, and convert it into energy used for cement production.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
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