HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Page 1/3  >  >>
Tim
User Rank
Platinum
Cost effectivity
Tim   1/13/2012 6:31:47 AM
NO RATINGS
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. 

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cost effectivity
Beth Stackpole   1/13/2012 8:06:08 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Potential game changer
Dave Palmer   1/13/2012 10:26:05 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Potential game changer
Ann R. Thryft   1/13/2012 12:46:16 PM
NO RATINGS

Thanks everyone for your feedback. I just had an interview with a research group yesterday that made me smarter about the complexities of the cellulose-to-ethanol chain, but thanks, Dave for pointing out the goofs. The Freedonia Group has just completed a major study of bioplastics and they had some interesting things to day. First, consumers *do* care and that's why most of the volume to date has been in less durable bioplastics to replace things like trash bags. Things made with the more durable stuff, aka engineering plastics, is a different matter. And unfortunately, most bioplastics of any kind are still being made from food crops, not from non-food crops like switchgrass. Stay tuned--a March feature will address more of this in detail


Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Potential game changer
Rob Spiegel   1/13/2012 2:25:06 PM
NO RATINGS
Nice article, Ann. A quick question -- why does it matter if food crops are used? I would think it's the fertile land that's taken up that matters. What you grow on it for materials doesn't really matter. As for eating into the food supply (so to speak), cows are pigs do more to eat up food land than materials ever will. 

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Potential game changer
Ann R. Thryft   1/13/2012 2:39:33 PM
NO RATINGS

Rob, it's hugely important. Growing food crops purely for use as biofuels and other non-food uses is a problem in several ways. Aside from sequestering land, the bigger problem is that it drives up the prices of human food (as well as prices for animal feed). The higher price of corn in particular has been devastating to poor people in Latin America, for example, who are on the edge as it is.

Diverting the non-food trash from food crops grown as food crops would make a lot of sense, in fact, perhaps the most sense, but is not yet being done. Even growing non-food crops, such as switchgrass, for biofuels, etc. would make more sense.


Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Potential game changer
Rob Spiegel   1/13/2012 2:45:29 PM
NO RATINGS

OK, I get it. I remember now how corn prices rose during the time when ethanol was restricted to corn crops. Yes, it makes sense now. I also like the idea of consumer materials that are otherwise bound for the landfill.


Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Potential game changer
Dave Palmer   1/13/2012 2:57:49 PM
NO RATINGS
@Rob: You're right that switching acreage from food crops to (say) switchgrass in order to make biopolymers would have the same effect on global food supplies as making biopolymers from food crops.

The advantage of the technology described in this article (as the title alludes to) is that you could use waste biomass, such as corn leaves and stalks, to produce sugars.  This way you wouldn't need to plant any additional acreage, or switch any acreage away from food crops.

It's true that the use of grains as animal feed may not be the most efficient use of land or food crops, but at least the animals which are fed with the grains wind up as food for people.

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Potential game changer
Dave Palmer   1/13/2012 3:37:32 PM
NO RATINGS
@Ann: I see that you answered Rob's question before I did! Thanks for bringing up the effect of rising corn prices on the poor in Latin America.  This is a story that many people in the U.S. know nothing about.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Potential game changer
Charles Murray   1/13/2012 5:17:23 PM
NO RATINGS
Ann, there has been talk of using cellulosic ethanol as an automotive fuel for a number of years now. Could this Renmatix ethanol have sufficient energy to be used to propel cars?

Page 1/3  >  >>


Partner Zone
Latest Analysis
McLaren is one of the biggest names in auto racing. But now it has its eyes on a whole new challenge -- innovating healthcare.
What if algae borne of fertilizer runoff that pollutes rivers and lakes could be harvested and used as biofuel feedstock? What if the leftovers could be recycled into farm soil nutrients, eliminating at least some of the need for artificial fertilizers in the first place? Western Michigan University researchers have a plan.
PTC will stream its LiveWrox IoT conference for free beginning Tuesday, May 5.
Manufacturers of plastic parts recognize the potential of conformal cooling to reduce molding cycle times. Problem is, conformal molds require additive manufacturing (AM), and technologies in that space are still evolving. Costs also can be high, and beyond that, many manufacturing organizations lack the knowledge and expertise needed to apply and incorporate additive technologies into their operations.
Stratasys has announced the winners in its 11th annual Extreme Redesign contest for middle school, high school, and college students around the world in engineering, design, and art or architecture.
More:Blogs|News
Design News Webinar Series
3/31/2015 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
2/25/2015 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
12/11/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
5/7/2015 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.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.
May 4 - 8, Designing Low Power Systems using Battery and Energy Harvesting Energy Sources
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6 |  7


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 Proto Labs
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2015 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service