Instead of burning it, composting it or just dumping it in landfills, food waste from your area coffee shop could be upcycled into new plastic or laundry detergent. Starbucks Hong Kong is trying out a new biorefinery, breaking down stale bakery products and coffee grounds into a sugary mixture that can be used for manufacturing.
An artificial, working brain smaller than a grain of rice, a heart on a stick the size of a micro SD card, and many more “organ chips” could help doctors peer into the inner workings of the human body. Today DARPA and the FDA announced a new $70 million program called Tissue Chip for Drug Testing, aiming to study the micro-environments of various human organs without ever using a scalpel.
Bacteria have deployed to Afghanistan to help the U.S. Army clean polluted wastewater. The microbes commonly appear in handfuls of dirt, but now form the main component of two new bioreactors made by scientists at Sam Houston State University in Texas.
Darpa's addiction to out-of-this world schemes has rubbed off in the best way on the government's more peaceful push for an energy revolution. Liquid metal batteries, bacteria that convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into gasoline, and artificial enzymes for carbon capture represent just a few of the 37 projects that have received $151 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's new ARPA-E agency.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (Arpa-E) takes its inspiration from the Department of Defense's mad science lab Darpa, and has $400 million in initial funding to help seed a number of cutting-edge projects over the next two years. Among the first round projects, 43 percent are small businesses, 35 percent are educational institutions, and 19 percent are large corporations.