Metabolix is moving forward with its plans to produce bioengineered polymers from crops other than corn. The Massachusetts company announced it has completed a field trial of tobacco, genetically engineered to “express” polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biobased polymers. In the Metabloix plan, crops such as switchgrass are bioengineered to create a polymer that grows within the plants’ molecular structure.
Tobacco will not be one of those plants when, and if, the idea goes commercial. “Tobacco was one of the crops they were working with in the lab and they were able to gain field trials,” says a company spokesperson. “They saw it as an opportunity to use it as a test crop to lay the groundwork for planning and permitting activities for field trials in bioengineered, non-food oilseed and biomass crops (such as switchgrass and sugarcane) producing PHA.”
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
This year's Dupont-sponsored WardsAuto survey of automotive designers and other engineers shows lightweighting dominates the discussion. But which materials will help them meet the 2025 CAFE standards are not entirely clear.
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.
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