HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Engineering Materials

Let's Make Plastics From Our Southern Scourge

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Newest First|Oldest First|Threaded View
David McCollum
User Rank
Gold
Eliminating Kudzu
David McCollum   7/20/2011 11:12:12 AM
NO RATINGS
I don't think anybody will be able to eliminate kudzu. That stuff will stand up to Round-up and these 100° degree Alabama summer days just make it grow faster. If we ever do find a use for it, that will be great.

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: What are the economics?
Dave Palmer   7/14/2011 5:55:51 PM
NO RATINGS
Wait a minute... if the goal is to eliminate the invasive species, then you wind up using up your feedstock.  Let's suppose kudzu-based plastic has incredible properties and everyone wants to use it.  How do you meet the demand, once you've successfully eradicated kudzu in the southern U.S.?

I agree that ideally bioplastics should be based on waste material rather than food crops, but I think this plan has a hole in it.

Tim
User Rank
Platinum
Re: What are the economics?
Tim   7/13/2011 2:21:48 AM
NO RATINGS
I agree on the usefullness of Kudzu as a bio fuel. There is an over abundance of it in the South, and it grows fast enough to swallow cars stopped at red lights. Harnessing this plant for use as something good for the environment would awesome.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: What are the economics?
TJ McDermott   7/12/2011 8:25:43 PM
NO RATINGS
Will any fast growing vegetation work?  Kudzu is also a southern nuisance plant.  Bamboo?  Blackberries?  All have growth that can be measured in inches per day, so would seem to be well suited.

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: What are the economics?
Beth Stackpole   7/12/2011 5:39:37 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for putting Cogongrass on our radar screens, Doug. I'm sure there are the "northern" and "eastern" and "mid-western" equivalents of the southern scourge that would make equally good candidates as alternatives to oil and natural gas for making bioplastics. At some point, the economics just have to add up.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: What are the economics?
Rob Spiegel   7/12/2011 5:37:56 PM
NO RATINGS
Doug, you're right about the concern in Saudi Arabia over the very likely possibility that high oil prices could make a wide range of alternatives to oil feasible. The Saudi folks want to see oil come down to $80 a barrel in order to prevent the widespread development of alternatives. I don't see that happening. I would expect greed to keep oil high, and I also expect that alternatives to oil will keep popping up as long as we're seeing $100 barrels.

Douglas Smock
User Rank
Platinum
Re: What are the economics?
Douglas Smock   7/12/2011 10:40:35 AM
NO RATINGS


Good questions Alex. Bioplastics, in general, are more expensive than their oil-based counterparts. The price of oil, of course, is a key factor in the relative economics of the feedstocks. Whenever the price of oil passes a critical tipping point, producers such as Saudi Arabia step in to make sure the alternative fuels, energy sources and feedstocks don't become too appealing. DuPont and other companies say they are interested in developing feedstocks from waste biomass, but need to study the economics. Cogongrass is a good place to start.

The bottom line, however, remains the bottom line. Very few companies will pay a premium for bioplastics. There are negative property trade-offs in some cases that also need to be seriously considered. 

 

 

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
What are the economics?
Alexander Wolfe   7/12/2011 10:17:45 AM
NO RATINGS
Interesting how the realization that oil prices are not going to be going anywhere but up appears to finally be driving serious searches for alternatives, not just in energy but, as you report here, in manufacturing processes which have traditionally been petrochemically based. I'm curious about the economics of cogoongrass-based plastics. Is it analogous to shale oil, in that it only makes sense when oil is really $$ (which would mean that if the price does dip for a prolonged period, cogoongrass-based plastics would not be competitive during that period)?

Partner Zone
More Blogs from Engineering Materials
HP revealed more of its 3D printing plans in a recent webinar. Senior vice president of inkjet and graphics solution business Stephen Nigro spoke about how the technology works and expanded on HP's vision of open collaboration to commercialize its Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology for end-production, and open collaboration on new materials. He also said HP will create software to help users decide when to use Multi Jet Fusion versus conventional subtractive manufacturing.
A lightweight electric urban concept car designed by several European companies weighs only 992 lb without its battery. It would have weighed 26.7 lb more if its windows were made of glass instead of the specially coated LEXAN polycarbonate resin from SABIC Innovative Plastics.
Skylar Tibbits' team in MIT's Self-Assembly Lab is now 4D printing self-assembling shapes made of programmable carbon composites and custom wood grain. The composites are being used in a sport car airfoil, and the wood grain is beautiful.
The NanoSteel Company has produced high-hardness ferrous metal matrix composite (MMC) parts using a new nanosteel powder in a one-step 3D-printing process. Parts are 99.9% dense, crack-free, and with wear resistance comparable to M2 tool steels.
After a year or so of missteps, false starts, retractions, and postponements, inkjet office printer giant Hewlett-Packard has finally revealed just what it plans to do in 3D printing.
Design News Webinar Series
11/19/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
11/6/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
12/11/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Dec 1 - 5, An Introduction to Embedded Software Architecture and Design
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Last Archived Class
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service