An interesting technology developed in Sweden using biofilms may combine efficient treatment of waste water with low-cost production of bioplastics.
In the MBBRTM biofilm technology, communities of micro-organisms (called biofilms) grow within engineered plastic carriers, which are designed with high internal surface area. Pollutants that need to be removed are food or substrate for growth of the biofilm. Design of the plastic carrier (shown in image above) is critical to rapidly transfer oxygen to the microorganisms. The MBBRTM biofilm technology is patented by AnoxKaldnes, which is now part of Veolia Water Systems and Technologies of St. Maurice, France.
AnoxKaldnes is now researching the potential of using the biofilm technology to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), polymers that are “energy reserves” for these bacterial microorganisms. PHAs have mechanical properties comparable to polypropylene, but are costly because current production systems are based on pure cultures of bacteria.
In the AnoxKaldnes’ approach, the complex bacteria in a wastewater treatment plant are used instead of a pure culture of PHA-producing bacteria. The process configuration and conditions are used to favor the enrichment of PHA production.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
The 100-percent solar-powered Solar Impulse plane flies on a piloted, cross-country flight this summer over the US as a prelude to the longer, round-the-world flight by its successor aircraft planned for 2015.
GE Aviation expects to chop off about 25 percent of the total 3D printing time of metallic production components for its LEAP Turbofan engine, using in-process inspection. That's pretty amazing, considering how slow additive manufacturing (AM) build times usually are.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.