Ann, this is definitely big news! This technology could easily be a game changer. And it is an interesting use for supercritical water. Supercritical fluids have many interesting properties. Only recently have people begun to take advantage of these properties.
There are a few minor errors in this article, mostly in the third paragraph. First, polyethylene and polypropylene aren't produced from sugars by fermentation. Fermentation of sugars produces ethanol. Ethanol can then be used to produce ethylene, which in turn can be used to produce polyethylene. The process described in the article only gives you the first step (sugars). These sugars could potentially be used in any number of industrial processes. As Renmatix puts it, "We don't sell cake to the baker, we create the flour" -- or sugar, as the case may be.
Second, the sentence "cellulosic sugars are extremely difficult to break down" should probably say something more like "breaking cellulosic material down into sugars can be difficult."
Still, this is a huge development. My biggest concern about bioplastics has always been the morality of using food crops to produce disposable consumer goods in the midst of a global food crisis. A cheap, fast method of producing biopolymer feedstocks from waste materials is a big step towards addressing this concern.
More companies like BASF need to pour investment dollars into companies like Renmatix to push forward the commercialization of novel bioplastics. As with most emerging technologies, the innovations come smaller companies, which are often bootstrapping development. Cash infusions like this one go a long way in helping these technologies see the light of day.
This is a great technology that uses bio waste to manufacture good product. Hopefully, it is not cost prohibitive to do so. Consumers are typically not motivated enough by "green" product to pay a premium for it.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.