DuPont of Wilmington, DE, spent 15 years developing a new category of bio-based materials called DuPont Renewably Sourced Materials. The company launched a Web portal at renewable.dupont.com to make it easy for design engineers to find and learn about these materials. In addition to basic product information, the website provides environmental data sheets for each product family. These sheets disclose information on the products’ cradle-to-grave environmental footprint, including an analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and non-renewable energy consumption.
DuPont’s renewably sourced materials are high-performance, bio-based materials and biofuels made in whole or in part from renewable agricultural feedstocks such as corn, soybeans, sugar cane and wheat rather than petroleum. In the future, DuPont expects to make these materials from cellulosic feedstocks from fast-growing energy crops such as grasses and agricultural byproducts like corn stalks. There are two criteria DuPont uses to select renewably sourced materials. First, they must contain at least 20 percent renewably sourced ingredients by weight, and second, the product must perform as well or better than petroleum-derived products.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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