Investors are putting a lot of money into bioplastic ventures. But the jury is still out on their environmental benefit They were panned in a recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Now comes an announcement from Unilever that bioplastics won’t be part of an aggressive sustainability program in packagingUnilever makes this comment:
“Bioplastics are derived from renewable resources. But this does not mean that they are sustainable when all the environmental impacts and issues around their growth, production and subsequent disposal are taken into consideration.”
That’s a pretty broad-brush statement considering all of the technologies being investigated for renewably sourced packaging materials Unilever’s overall dismissal of this technology may be unwarranted But who really knows for sure? The companies with a stake in the plants-to-plastics projects need to make more convincing cases of their environmental benefits
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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