The long-term decoupling of chemicals from petroleum took another step forward with the announcement by LanzaTech that it has successfully produced 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BD) using microbial gas fermentation technology. 2,3-butanediol is a key building block for plastics and fuels.
Chemical building blocks are normally produced from the cracking of petroleum or even through the fermentation of sugars (ethanol). However, LanzaTech’s process uses nonfood, low value gas feed stocks, including industrial waste gases such as those produced by steel mills, oil refineries, coal manufacturing, syngas from landfill-waste and reformed natural gas.
2,3-BD is converted into intermediaries like butenes, butadiene and methyl ethyl ketone that are used to make polyester plastics, ABS, and other polymers. The technology is based on a proprietary microbe developed by the New Zealand company.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
New sensor technology integrates sensors, traces, and electronics into a smart fabric for wearables that measures more dimensions -- force, location, size, twist, bend, stretch, and motion -- and displays data in 3D maps.
As we saw on the show floor this week at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing and co-located events in Anaheim, Calif., 3D printing is contributing to distributed manufacturing and being reinvented by engineers for their own needs. Meanwhile, new fasteners are appearing for wearable consumer and medical devices and Baxter Robot has another software upgrade.
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