Another major consumer package is moving from oil-based plastics to plant-based plastics. The iconic Heinz ketchup bottles will be made in part (30 percent) from sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil. The Heinz bottle will be based on Coca-Cola’s breakthrough PlantBottle packaging.
PlantBottle packaging looks, feels and functions just like traditional PET plastic, and remains fully recyclable. It is not biodegradable. Heinz’s new technology will be the biggest change to its ketchup bottles since they were converted to plastic in 1983. Heinz will introduce PlantBottle in all 20-ounce ketchup bottles in June. Coca-Cola launched the bioplastic packaging in 2009 on brands that include Coke, Sprite, and Fresca.
An initial life-cycle analysis conducted by Imperial College London showed that the use of PlantBottle packaging provides a 12-19 percent reduction in carbon impact. In 2010 alone, the use of this breakthrough packaging eliminated the equivalent of almost 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or approximately 60,000 barrels of oil, according to Coca-Cola.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
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