#plastic

#plastic
Superworms that Eat Styrofoam Polystyrene, which most of us know as styrofoam, is a plastic that's particularly difficult to get rid of once it has been manufactured. When the foam degrades, it mostly just breaks down into smaller pieces, which find their way into the ecosystem and are ingested by fish and other animals. But now scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia have identified a "superworm" that is attracted to and will eat polystyrene. The larvae of Zophobas morio darkling beetles can eat styrofoam and digest it! The worms that were offered a diet of styrofoam only even gained weight, but they did not exactly thrive, as styrofoam does not provide all the nutrients they need.
#plastic
MIT Chemical Engineers Created New Kind of Plastic That's Twice as Strong as SteelChemical engineers from MIT produced a new material that is tougher than steel and as light as plastic. It can also be easily manufactured in bulk.“We don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things, it has very unusual properties and we’re very excited about that,” says Michael Strano, senior author of the new study.In the research, Strano and his colleagues devised a new polymerization process that permitted them to create a two-dimensional sheet of polyaramide — something that scientists in the past had tried to make for decades and thus concluded wrongly that such a structure was impossible to create. They used melamine as monomer building blocks. Under the right conditions, these monomers grew in two dimensional-sheets and formed disks which make the structure very strong.The MIT researchers proceeded to coat surfaces with films of the new material, which they called 2DPA-1. They found 2DPA-1 to be four to six times harder to be deformed (elastic modulus) than bulletproof glass. It is also twice as hard to break (yield strength) than steel — while having only one-sixth the density of the latter. The material is also impermeable to gases. “This could allow us to create ultrathin coatings that can completely prevent water or gases from getting through. This kind of barrier coating could be used to protect metal in cars and other vehicles, or steel structures,” Strano says.The Center for Enhanced Nanofluidic Transport (CENT) funded this research.Image credit: polymer film courtesy of the researchers; Christine Daniloff, MIT#research #plastic #engineering #MIT #newmaterial #steel
#plastic
Bacteria are Evolving to Consume PlasticThe earth has a way of changing and adapting to new conditions over millions of years. New species arise, fill ecological niches, and then evolve again when conditions change. There was a time in the earth's ancient past that an adaptation in trees caused pollution in the form of too much lignin. Eventually, a type of microorganism evolved that ate lignin and solved the problem, although it took many millions of years. Today the pollution is human-driven, and the world has too much plastic. Will something evolve that eats plastic? That's already happened. Scientist discovered a new bacterium they named Ideonella sakaiensis near a plastic recycling facility in Japan. I. sakaiensis manufactures an enzyme that breaks down the plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into organic molecules it can consume. Other bacteria with such talents have been identified since then. But we don't have tens of million of years to dispose of plastic. Mother Nature has all the time in the world, but in order to preserve life as we know it, scientists are growing these plastic-eating bacteria and boosting their PETase, which is what the novel enzyme was named. While we still need to reduce our plastic waste, having microbes that decompose it can't hurt. Or can it? When we encourage any species to evolve and thrive, we don't know what the long-term consequences will be. Read more about this research at Real Clear Science. ​(Image credit: Dying Regime) #bacteria #plastic #evolution
#lego
Official LEGO Brick Made From Recycled PET PlasticThe LEGO Group has made a new breakthrough for their future releases! They have just introduced their latest prototype: recycled LEGO bricks made from sustainable materials.The new prototype LEGO brick is made from PET plastic from recycled bottles. According to LEGO’s official press release, a single one-liter plastic bottle has enough raw material to make ten 2x4 LEGO bricks.Over the past three years, LEGO’s material scientists and engineers have tested over 250 variations of materials and other plastic formulations to create a prototype brick that is as durable and strong as existing LEGO bricks. While the newest sustainable prototype has been announced, it will take some time before these recycled bricks appear in LEGO product boxes. The company will continue to test, develop and assess these bricks  before they could move to the pilot production phase.Image credit: The LEGO Group #Sustainability #LEGO #Recycling #PET #Plastic #Bricks #LegoBlocks #Toys 
#3dprinting
Lightweight LEGO-Like 3D-Printed Alternative to Reinforced Concrete BeamsReinforced concrete beams, a staple in civil engineering, are strong ... but they are also very, very heavy.Thanks to 3D printing, a team of researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) in Spain has developed a lightweight alternative. The 3D printed plastic pieces are snapped together onsite, just like LEGO pieces. Then the structure is concreted into place, with no metal reinforcement required.The resulting beam is just as strong as reinforced concrete beam, but weighs up to 80% less.How did the researchers achieve the required rigidity from plastic? By studying human bones:"It is an alveolar structure, which makes it possible to decrease the amount of plastic used – and therefore its weight – while maintaining structural rigidity," said Jose Ramon Albiol of the Higher Technical School of Construction Engineering of the UPV, "This is what we have transferred to these revolutionary beams, specifically to their profiles. It is a very intelligent natural system and its reproduction in these beams awards them, with the low structural weight, very high mechanical capabilities."via AlphaGalileo​#3DPrinting #concrete #CivilEngineering #LEGO #plastic #materialscience