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.”
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
Two teams, one based in the US and one in Europe, have 3D printed space-worthy support structures for satellite antenna arrays. These aren't prototypes: they're fully functioning antenna supports that will operate while exposed to the harsh temperatures and radiation of outer space.
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