The Coca-Cola Co. is making impressive environmental improvements in its bottles. As reported here, Coke is the first company to introduce a beverage bottle made with recycled plastic. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola opened the world’s largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, SC. Now Coke has announced the “PlantBottle”, which is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and up to 30 percent plant-based materials. The feedstock, presumably ethylene glycol via glucose, is made from sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production. Coca-Cola said it is also exploring the use of other plant materials for future generations of the bottle. A life-cycle analysis conducted by Imperial College London indicates the “PlantBottle” with 30 percent plant-base material reduces carbon emissions by up to 25 percent, compared with petroleum-based PET.
Another advantage to the “PlantBottle” is that, unlike other plant-based plastics, it can be processed through existing manufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET. Coca-Cola North America will pilot the “PlantBottle” with Dasani and sparkling brands in select markets later this year and with vitaminwater in 2010
“The ‘PlantBottle’ represents the next step in evolving our system toward the bottle of the future,” said Scott Vitters, director of Sustainable Packaging of Coca-Cola. “This innovation is a real win because it moves us closer to our vision of zero waste with a material that lessens our carbon footprint and is also recyclable.”
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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