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Solid state from a fragile source?

It’s possible that future computers could have memory devices based on eggshells as researchers at the Guizhou Institute of Technology have been prototyping a new form of solid-state memory. Eggshells were processed to form a material that changed its resistance in response to a voltage being applied across it thus making it suitable for use as a ReRAM (resistive random access memory) device. This egg-centric research might offer the possibility of an environmentally friendly, low-cost and sustainable material for the next-generation of non-volatile date storage device.

Website link: “A larger nonvolatile bipolar resistive switching memory behaviour fabricated using eggshells”, Current Applied Physics, Volume 17, Issue 2, February 2017

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A cracking idea

A big theme in textiles and materials development at the moment is sustainability and recycling so this story about egg packaging made of eggs has scrambled our minds.

Researchers as Tuskegee University added egg shell nanoparticles (350,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair) to a plastic polymer consisting of 30% PLA (polylactic acid, a polymer derived from cornstarch) and 70% PBAT (polybutyrate adipate terephthalate, a petroleum polymer that, unlike other oil-based plastic polymers, is designed to begin degrading as soon as three months after it is put into the soil). This resulted in a material that was 700% more flexible than other bioplastic blends and this pliability could make it ideal for use in retail packaging, grocery bags and food containers — including egg cartons.

How amazing to be able to make a valuable material out of a waste product!

Website link: Tuskegee University – Eggshell-based nanoparticles could be used in future biodegradable packaging

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The very hungry caterpillar…

…on saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of swiss chesse, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one sliece of watermelon….and 184mg of supermaket plastic shopping bag.

The Galleria mellonella larva is a very hungry caterpillar indeed.  An amateur beekeeper, Federica Bertocchini, happened upon their amazing digesting and degrading abilities when removing parasitic pests from the honeycombs in her hives. The worms were temporarily kept in a typical plastic shopping bag that became riddled with holes. Bertocchini, from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), collaborated with colleagues Paolo Bombelli and Christopher Howe at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Biochemistry to show that  “The caterpillars are not just eating the plastic without modifying its chemical make-up. We showed that the polymer chains in polyethylene plastic are actually broken by the wax worms,” said Bombelli.

This discovery might lead to a biotechnological solution to the approximately one trillion palstic bags used each year worldwide.

Website link: Caterpillar found to eat shopping bags, suggesting biodegradable solution to plastic pollution, 24th April 2017, University of Cambridge 

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Compostable clothing

It’s interesting how frequently a simple idea requires a large amount of perseverance and follows a complicated path before it physically exsists. Clothing that composts is a simple idea to understand but not to enact.

Freitag have spent five years developing three textiles (and their supply chains) to create clothing that bio-degrades in a compost heap (except for the jean button which is reusable).

Website link: Freitag F-ABRIC

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EPSRC centre for innovative manufacturing in industrial sustainability: fourth annual conference

Hose drying
Before
Tooley Tote
After

An interesting conference in Cambridge with several thought-provoking talks.

Kresse (of Elvis & Kresse) was particularly inspirational and challenging. I saw her speak when the company was just starting out and fell in love with the reclaimed firehose material. It’s an amazing story of rescuing an incredibly high quality material and repurposing it to extend its usable life. I like that the company ethos is to reduce waste and in doing so they have quietly attracted the attention of the fashion world.

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A shoddy coat from M&S? Well, yes and no.

Really interested to see the M&S ‘shwop’ coat. Firstly, it’s great that clothes that are unsuitable for charity shops or reuse can still have value. Secondly, it reduces costs. Lastly, I find the rebranding of what is actually a fairly old idea quite funny. The process of shredding unwanted woolen garments (or using waste from wool production) to produce a recycled wool yarn creates shoddy wool. This is why many woolen garments are labelled ‘pure new wool’ or ‘virgin wool’. The shoddy wool retains many of the excellent properties of new wool but as the fibres are shorter it can become a coarser and stiffer fabric. This can be overcome by mixing other fibres to improve the feel. Perhaps the word shoddy might eventually stand for not wasting things rather than being of questionable quality?

Website link: M&S stories – sustainable fashion, the shwop coat