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.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
With major product releases coming from big names like Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung, and big investments by companies like Facebook, 2015 could be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finally pop. Here's take a look back at some of the technologies that got us here (for better and worse).
Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
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.