Many of the plastics on display at the recent NPE2012 show in Orlando, Fla., were sustainable in one way or another, and their manufacturers' booths were highly visible in the show's Emerging Technology pavilions. Some of them, like BASF's Ecovio, are compostable or recyclable at the end-product stage, some are made from recycled materials, like SABIC's Xenoy iQ or Stryrolution's PCR materials, and some are constructed of bio-materials, such as Altuglas' Rnew.
Click on the image below to see these and other highlights from the show.
Compared to other Plexiglas formulations, bio-based Rnew-maker Altuglas says it has greater melt flow and lower processing temperatures. Its properties, including impact resistance and chemical resistance, can be tailored, and it can be first extruded, then thermoformed with a high degree of detail, as shown here.
(Source: Altuglas International)
Tim, this material is specifically targeted for large-scale agricultural applications, as an alternative to poisonous sprays like Roundup and genetically modified (GM) crops. So is black petro-based plastic, but this material has even more benefits, since it can be plowed under, saving time and cost of removal, and saving the damage done if not removed.
Hopefully, this film is available to be applied in a large scale application. Many large scale farm plants have been genetically engineered to specifically resist herbicides (ie Round Up Ready Corn). This allows the farmers to spray the entire field to kill weeds while retaining their cash crop. If this film allows for the farmer to reduce the amount of herbicide and geneticallly engineered seed, it would only be a net gain to consumers.
Chuck, that appears to be lettuce or some other leafy vegetable. The thin film is mulch, which you put down around your crop plants to help keep down weeds and retain moisture in the soil. Many people use large sheets of black petro-based plastic, which is highly effective but does not biodegrade quickly and can leave harmful residues. I'm a gardener, not a largescale farmer, but I suspect it's put down before or during planting not after and holes punched through for the plants.
Tim, you are correct, it was the same material. In the instance I described, the bags in question were pre-formed to run on the type of machinery that packages sliced bread.
Can you imagine that material when making your kids' lunch sandwiches?
These may have been the same bags that Frito Lay introduced for their Sun Chips in 2010. They were so noisy and had a such a bad feel that the Sun Chip sales actually fell about 10% during the year that they were on the market. It would be great to see a non-noisy solution that would be bidegradable.
TJ, thanks for that input. I heard from several manufacturers of bioplastics and/or recyclable plastics (the BASF Ecoflex/Ecovio peanuts bag is both) that they had spent considerable time and effort getting feedback from users to overcome exactly the unpleasant characteristics you described. The BASF peanuts bag, for example, is not noisy like cellophane when you manipulate it and that specific problem was cited as one they had worked to overcome. So things have changed quite a bit in four years and these materials now exist--I've seen them--but they haven't yet been adopted in quantities that make them visible to end-users.
And of course, making so-called green materials from food crops, especially corn, is now a no-no.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
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