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.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
This month will mark the launch of the SpeedFoiler, a super-fast, ultra-lightweight foiling catamaran that can fly short distances over water faster than other foiling designs, in part because of its carbon composite materials.
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