Of all the ideas for dealing with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, this one may be closest to home — turn it into furniture. Until sea drones can be built to hoover it all up, this is as good a solution as any.
Self-healing materials will eventually fix anything from cell phone screens to car fenders, enabling surfaces to heal on their own in the presence of different types of light. But none of the earlier prototypes we’ve seen work quite like this new plastic: It bleeds red at the site of injury. Then it heals itself, inspired by the properties of tree trunks and human skin.
To the multitude of arguments for protecting rainforest biodiversity, here’s a new addition: An Amazonian fungus could eat our most durable landfill waste. A group of students from Yale found the fungus during an expedition to Ecuador and learned it breaks down polyurethane.
Engineers in the UK have designed a new manufacturing process using powdered materials, using it to “grow” a weird ivory-colored bicycle made of nylon. They say it is as strong as steel. The designers hope the growth process, a type of 3-D laser printing, could revolutionize manufacturing, according to the BBC.
Plastics are great because they are so easily moldable into just about anything, but that manipulability also often introduces a degree of fragility as well. For high strength and durability, what you really want is a metal alloy of some kind. Now Yale scientists are doing away with this strength-moldability tradeoff by developing novel metal alloys that are as moldable as plastic.
A Japanese inventor has figured out a way to convert plastic grocery bags, bottles and caps back into the petroleum from whence they came, providing a ready fuel source for individual homes that also diverts waste from landfills.
In a new breakthrough, scientists from the Brookhaven National Laboratory and Dow AgroSciences have engineered a relative of cabbage to create the raw material for producing plastics.
The plants’ seeds contain a type of fatty acid that could be used as a chemical building block for common plastics, the researchers say.
Light-colored roofs that help reflect sunlight may only work in the summer, but a new smart roof made from waste cooking oil can automatically switch between reflecting or absorbing solar heat. Homeowners need not worry about an accompanying smell of greasy French fries, either.