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Harder than concrete but much more ecological: ByFusion turn tons of non-recyclable plastic into building blocks

Harder than concrete but much more ecological: ByFusion turn tons of non-recyclable plastic into building blocks


As much as we fight against single-use plastics, millions of tons continue to be produced. Some are reused, but there is a large amount of plastic that cannot be recycled. Fortunately, there are some solutions to reuse this huge amount of material.


That’s what Los Angeles-based company ByFusion does. Through a vaporization and compression process, they shape the plastics into blocks that they call ByBlocks and can be used for construction as they have a resistance as high as concrete.

More than 100 tons of plastic have already been turned into blocks

Byfusion plastic blocks

ByFusion blocks are strong enough to be used in any type of construction. We talk from houses to bus stops, passing through walls and other types of barriers. Its base size is 16 x 8 x 8 inches, which is about 40 x 20 x 20 centimeters .

As described by the company, the blocks are lighter than their equivalent in cement. Approximately 4.5 kilos less. But they claim they are just as durable.

The true innovation of this company is not the blocks, but the machine that allows them to be compacted. These machines are called Blockers. Blockers can turn tons of plastic into blocks without the need to classify or clean them.

ByFusion currently has one of these machines installed at its headquarters with the capacity to process up to 450 tons of plastic per year. The intention is to have up to 12 of these machines before the end of the year. To date, the company claims that it has already compacted 103 tons of non-recyclable plastic.

House made of plastic blocks

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BREAKTHROUGH IN SEPARATING PLASTIC WASTE: MACHINES CAN NOW DISTINGUISH 12 DIFFERENT TYPES OF PLASTIC


In contrast to common perceptions, plastic is in no way near one material. Rather, it is a combination of many materials (polymers) with different chemical compounds and additives such as pigments or fibers, depending on its use. It is very difficult to tell the difference between different types of plastics, and this is what makes it difficult to separate and recycle them.

THE NEW RAW’S 3D-PRINTED BEACH FURNITURE GIVES MARINE PLASTIC WASTE A NEW LIFE


The Dutch studio’s limited-edition collection titled The Elements, showcasing wave-like 3D encoded beach furniture, is digitally manufactured from 80 per cent recycled plastic.


This company intends to distribute its machines on a large scale so that companies and municipalities can reuse all the non-recyclable plastic.

Among the uses that have been given to these blocks is the construction of a house. Of course, as part of these plastics can be susceptible to sunlight, the company explains that they must be covered with resistant paint designed for exteriors.

In the creation process, no type of glue or addition is incorporated. If we have 20 kilos of garbage, the material will be enough to make 20 kilos of blocks. An ingenious solution that can be an interesting patch to take advantage of all those plastics that should disappear, but unfortunately they are still very present.

Source:

OnePexel



Breakthrough in separating plastic waste: Machines can now distinguish 12 different types of plastic

Breakthrough in separating plastic waste: Machines can now distinguish 12 different types of plastic


In contrast to common perceptions, plastic is in no way near one material. Rather, it is a combination of many materials (polymers) with different chemical compounds and additives such as pigments or fibers, depending on its use. It is very difficult to tell the difference between different types of plastics, and this is what makes it difficult to separate and recycle them.


In collaboration with Vestforbrænding, Dansk Affaldsminimering Aps, and PLASTIX, researchers from the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University have now developed a new camera technology that can see the difference between 12 different types of plastics (PE, PP, PET, PS, PVC, PVDF, POM, PEEK, ABS, PMMA, PC and PA12). Together, these constitute the vast majority of household plastic types.

The technology makes it possible to separate plastics based on a purer chemical composition than is possible today, and this opens up for completely new opportunities to recycle plastics. The technology has been tested at pilot scale and is planned to be implemented at PLASTIX and Dansk Affaldsminimering Aps in spring 2022.

“With this technology, we can now see the difference between all types of consumer plastics and several high-performance plastics. We can even see the difference between plastics that consist of the same chemical building blocks, but which are structured slightly differently. We use a hyperspectral camera in the infrared area, and machine learning to analyze and categorize the type of plastic directly on the conveyor belt. The plastic can then be separated into different types. It’s a breakthrough that will have a huge impact on all plastics separation,” says Associate Professor Mogens Hinge, who is heading the project at Aarhus University.

The study has been published in the scientific journal Vibrational Spectroscopy.

Plastics are currently separated using near-infrared technology (NIR) or via density tests (floats/sinks in water). These methods can separate certain plastic fractions (for example PE, PP, and PET), but not with the same accuracy as the new technology, and therefore not with the chemical purity in the composition, and this is vital for becoming able to increase the recycling rate of waste plastic.

“The technology we’ve developed in collaboration with the university is nothing short of a breakthrough for our ability to recycle plastics. We look forward to installing the technology in our processing hall and starting in earnest on the long journey towards 100% utilization of waste plastic,” says Hans Axel Kristensen, CEO of PLASTIX.


Related posts:

THE NEW RAW’S 3D-PRINTED BEACH FURNITURE GIVES MARINE PLASTIC WASTE A NEW LIFE


The Dutch studio’s limited-edition collection titled The Elements, showcasing wave-like 3D encoded beach furniture, is digitally manufactured from 80 per cent recycled plastic.

THE LEGO GROUP REVEALS FIRST PROTOTYPE LEGO® BRICK MADE FROM RECYCLED PLASTIC


The LEGO Group today unveiled a prototype LEGO® brick made from recycled plastic, the latest step in its journey to make LEGO products from sustainable materials.


Plastic must be at least 96% pure by polymer type to be recycled in conventional industry. This means that the plastic has to be separated to an almost pure product in terms of chemical composition.

“Using the new technology, we are now a big step along the way,” says Associate Professor Mogens Hinge, who stresses that the technology is continuously being developed and that data indicates it may be possible to differentiate even further between polymer types and additives before long.

The hyper-spectral camera technology has been developed via cross-disciplinary collaboration, including BSc and MSc engineering students and researchers at the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University as well as experts from the participating companies.

The research is part of Denmark’s Re-Plast project. The project is headed by the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University. Other participants are the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Aarhus University, Vestforbrænding, Dansk Affaldsminimering and PLASTIX.

Source:

Aarhus University via Tech Xplore



Siemens Gamesa Launches Wind Turbine with RecyclableBlades — a World’s First

Siemens Gamesa Launches Wind Turbine with RecyclableBlades — a World’s First


In recent reports, Siemens Gamesa launched RecyclableBlade for wind turbines.  The technology, a world’s first of its kind, is commercially ready for offshore use.


Siemens Gamesa CEO Andreas Nauen says that the company envisions a society that centers caring for the environment as its goal.  “The time to tackle climate emergency is now, and we need to do it in a holistic way. In pioneering wind circularity — where elements contribute to a circular economy of the wind industry — we have reached a major milestone in a society that puts care for the environment at its heart,” he said. “The RecyclableBlade is another tangible example of how Siemens Gamesa is leading technological development in the wind industry.”

Siemens Gamesa’s RecylableBlade vs. Existing Wind Turbines

While existing wind turbines have some of their components such as the tower and the nacelle that are recyclable, having recyclable blades has remained a challenge.  That is, until the launch of the company’s newest technology.

Existing wind turbine blades are made of polymer composites that contain a variety of materials, including glass, carbon fiber, wood, and a resin system.  As the blades are manufactured, these components bind together, making it difficult to be separated once the turbines are decommissioned.

Siemens Gamesa’s RecyclableBlades, on the other hand, makes use of a new type of resin.  This enables efficient separation at the end of the life of the equipment.  Being separated, the materials may not be conveniently recycled.

The first six 81-meter long RecyclableBlades were made in Denmark.  The industrial giant aims to make all turbines fully recyclable by 2040.

It is also working with RWE Renewables with the installation and monitoring of the wind turbines in Germany at the Kaskasi offshore wind power plant, where energy production is projected for 2022 onwards. 

RWE Renewables Wind Offshore CEO Sven Utermöhlen expressed his enthusiasm for the innovative project. “We are pleased that our offshore wind farm Kaskasi is able to provide a fantastic facility for testing innovations; here we are preparing to test special steel collars and to use an improved installation method for foundations,” he said. “Now, Kaskasi installs the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blade manufactured by Siemens Gamesa. This is a significant step in advancing the sustainability of wind turbines to the next level.”

Source:

Carina Isobel at Engineer Rosie



The New Raw’s 3D-printed beach furniture gives marine plastic waste a new life

The New Raw’s 3D-printed beach furniture gives marine plastic waste a new life


The Dutch studio’s limited-edition collection titled The Elements, showcasing wave-like 3D encoded beach furniture, is digitally manufactured from 80 per cent recycled plastic.


Through the means of robotic 3D printing and marine plastic waste as the raw material, Dutch architects Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki have designed a limited-edition collection of beach furniture titled ‘The Elements’. As suggestive of the moniker, the collection comprising a fitting room, a footpath, and a sunbed, draws inspiration from the diversity of elements characteristic to the shore – “the carcasses of marine organisms, and saltation patterns on the sand and the waves”, to list a few. The soft sculptural forms come in two colours – aqua and sand – and a materiality focused on both visual and ergonomic comfort.

Each piece of the collection is made with 80% recycled marine plastic | The Elements | The New Raw | STIRworld
Each piece of the collection is made with 80 per cent recycled marine plastic Image: Courtesy of The New Raw

The project by Rotterdam-based studio, The New Raw, follows the practice’s larger goal of seeking to give a new life to discarded materials through mediations of design, robotics, and craftsmanship. Each object is crafted from 80 per cent recycled plastic and designed to be 100 per cent recyclable, rendering itself as a promising (in contrast to the common association of plastic waste) raw material for future interventions.

“Plastic is a major contributor to the pollution of the seas. However, living in urban regions, we tend to forget about our dependence on the sea that is related to food and oxygen supply,” says Sakkas and Setaki in an official statement. The duo arrived at the design through a rigorous ‘form follows process’ approach in which digital manufacturing gave shape to a refreshing visual language and a unique ergonomic design. The wavy forms that easily blend with the topography of beaches reveal 3D encoded textures, which as per the architects “act equally as ornament and as functional components to achieve climatic comfort during use, natural air ventilation, light irradiation, water drainage and cooling”. A programmed robot movement sculpted the forms layer by layer, bringing together a striking display of colours, textures and geometries; the engineered input minimised the printing and assembly time.

The wavy forms easily blend with the topography of beaches Image: Courtesy of The New Raw

Originally designed for Coca-Cola in Greece, the collection over the last few months was presented at six different locations in the country and has upcycled over 720 kg of plastic waste. The locations include Chania beach on the islands of Crete, Elli beach in Rhodes, and Glyfada closer to the Attica region.

With a philosophy that prioritises circular design and ‘making with waste’, The New Raw sets out to redefine “how we see and experience waste”. The studio employs decentralised systems in which local plastic waste is used as a material resource for projects. The practice is rooted in the idea that this could help achieve a sustainable future for coastal and remote areas in which local production can benefit from global design thinking and can act independently of global material supply chains.

Source:

stirworld



Tesla claims 92% battery cell material recovery in new recycling process

Tesla claims 92% battery cell material recovery in new recycling process


Tesla released more details about its effort to deploy large-scale battery recycling, and it claims that it can recover about 92% of battery cell materials with its recycling process.


When it comes to emissions throughout the entire lifecycle, electric vehicles have two main advantages over gas-powered vehicles.

When it comes to the operation of the vehicles, electric vehicle owners have more choices of energy sources to charge their vehicles than just gasoline.

They can charge their vehicles using renewable energy, which will greatly reduce emissions generated by the use of their vehicles.

On the manufacturing front, EV detractors often claim that the energy and resources that it takes to build batteries counterbalance all the tailpipe advantages.

However, those detractors often leave out battery recycling, which makes all the difference for the full emission cycles for electric vehicles.

For years now, Tesla has been working with third-party recyclers to recover materials from their end-of-life battery packs.

But the automaker has also been working on its own “unique battery recycling system.

Today, with the release of its 2020 Impact Report, Tesla released more details on its battery recycling effort.

Tesla confirmed that the first phase of its own battery cell recycling facility was deployed late last year:

“In the fourth quarter of 2020, Tesla successfully installed the first phase of our cell recycling facility at Gigafactory Nevada for in-house processing of both battery manufacturing scrap and end-of-life batteries. While Tesla has worked for years with third-party battery recyclers to ensure our batteries do not end up in a landfill, we understand the importance of also building recycling capacity in-house to supplement these relationships. Onsite recycling brings us one step closer to closing the loop on materials generation, allowing for raw material transfer straight to our nickel and cobalt suppliers. The facility unlocks the cycle of innovation for battery recycling at scale, allowing Tesla to rapidly improve current designs through operational learnings and to perform process testing of R&D products.”

The automaker shared a chart showing that it can recover over 92% of raw battery materials:

Tesla also argues that its recycling effort will be even better for its own battery cells manufacturing in-house as the process will be integrated at each manufacturing site:

“As the manufacturer of our in-house cell program, we are best positioned to recycle our products efficiently to maximize key battery material recovery. With the implementation of in-house cell manufacturing at Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg and Gigafactory Texas, we expect substantial increases in manufacturing scrap globally. We intend to tailor recycling solutions to each location and thereby re-introduce valuable materials back into our manufacturing process. Our goal is to develop a safe recycling process with high recovery rates, low costs and low environmental impact. From an economic perspective, we expect to recognize significant savings over the long term as the costs associated with large-scale battery material recovery and recycling will be far lower than purchasing additional raw materials for cell manufacturing.”

In fact, Tesla is now becoming a producer of nickel, cobalt, and other raw materials. Instead of being mined in the field, the materials are being mined from used battery packs.

The company says that it had 1,300 tons of nickel, 400 tons of copper, and 80 tons of cobalt recycled in 2020.

The issue of recycling batteries is so important that Tesla co-founder and long-time CTO JB Straubel quit the company in 2019 to start his own company, Redwood Materials, and develop recycling processes.

Redwood even has a contract to recycle scrap from Panasonic’s battery cell production at Tesla Gigafactory Nevada, where the automaker deployed its own new recycling facility.

Source:

Fred Lambert at Electrek



Colgate unveils recyclable toothpaste tubes – and offers tech to rivals

Colgate unveils recyclable toothpaste tubes – and offers tech to rivals

Colgate-Palmolive has revealed their first recyclable toothpaste tube – the result of five years research – and immediately offered the technology to rival companies to help reduce landfill waste.

Colgate Smile for Good plastic tubes use high-density polyethylene (HDPE), classified as recyclable by the Australasian Recycling Label Program of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO). It can be disposed of at kerbside plastic recycling bins.

“Making toothpaste tubes part of the circular economy will help keep plastic productive and eliminate waste,” said Simon Petersen, GM at Colgate-Palmolive South Pacific. 

“Colgate-Palmolive wants all toothpaste tubes to meet the same third-party recycling standards that we’ve achieved, so we are openly sharing our technology with toothpaste competitors as well as manufacturers of all kinds of tubes.”

Colgate Smile for Good tube’s HDPE material is based on the same plastic that companies used to make 2L milk bottles and other plastic containers that are recyclable. Its engineers developed a solution using different grades and thicknesses of HDPE laminated into a tube to make it squeezable since the type of plastic used on milk bottles is too rigid.

Most toothpaste tubes are usually made from sheets of plastic laminate with a thin layer of aluminium. These are difficult to recycle through conventional methods leading to 50 million tubes ending up in landfills annually in Australia.

The new toothpaste adds to the company’s global target to create 100-per-cent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025 and to reach Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets as well. 

Full story by Remedios Lucio at InsideFMCG



Revealed: why hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recycling are going up in smoke

Revealed: why hundreds of thousands of tonnes of recycling are going up in smoke

Investigation questions eco-friendly claims of incineration industry

When it comes to planet-friendly habits, recycling is by far the UK’s most popular, with 87% of householders claiming they do so regularly, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme. But an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches into where our rubbish goes, and the role played by energy-from-waste incineration plants, has found that millions of tonnes of our carefully sorted empties are simply being burned after they’re collected.

Freedom of information requests reveal that, on average, 11% of rubbish collected for recycling is incinerated. In some areas the figures are far higher: 45% in Southend-on-Sea and 38% in Warwickshire.

Lucy Siegle presents Dispatches: Dirty Truth About Your Rubbish.

The Dispatches team also found a direct correlation between regions tied into incineration contracts and low recycling rates. In England, more waste is now burned than recycled – 11.6 million tonnes was incinerated in 2019 while 10.9 million was sent for recycling. There are 48 energy-from-waste incinerators across the country, and industry figures show 18 more are planned.

Despite householders’ enthusiasm for recycling, rates in England remain in the doldrums – at 45%, according to government figures, the same level as in 2017, and a long way from the revolutionary shift in waste and recycling promised by the environment bill (postponed to the next parliamentary cycle).

Full story by Lucy Siegle at The Guardian


The Big Lie of Recycling and ‘90s Environmentalism

The Big Lie of Recycling and ‘90s Environmentalism

“If the public thinks the recycling is working, then they’re not going to be as concerned about the environment,” says Larry Thomas, who headed the main plastics industry group in the ‘90s.

As kids in the ‘80s and ‘90s, environmentalism meant turning off the water when you brushed your teeth and cutting rings on soda packs, so sea turtles didn’t choke. It meant watching Captain Planet on Saturday mornings: earth, air, fire, water, and inexplicably, heart, all joined together fighting the powers that would pollute. When we got a little older, it meant recycling, sorting different kinds of glass and packaging so that they could be remade into playground mats and backpacks.

I have been devastated to learn that, by and large, recycling plastics is a big lie. That, in the ’90s, we were all subject to a massive marketing campaign funded by the immensely profitable and thoroughly villainous plastics industry. That no more than 10% of the plastic that is recycled has gotten reused in other consumer products. That’s not nothing, given the mind-blowing amounts of garbage that we humans produce. But it’s not what we thought it was, and it’s not enough.

Full story by Lara Henneman at Medium

New catalyst converts common plastic waste into fuels and wax

New catalyst converts common plastic waste into fuels and wax

As useful as plastics are in our everyday life, they’re difficult to recycle, meaning most ends up in landfill or polluting the environment. Now, researchers in Japan have used a novel catalyst to recycle a common plastic into useful products like fuel and wax.

By design, plastics are extremely resistant to chemical reactions. That makes them great for bottles and containers for chemicals, but on the flipside it makes them hard to break down when they need to be disposed of. For example, thermal recycling processes, require temperatures of between 300 °C and 900 °C (572 °F and 1,650 °F), which obviously consumes a whole lot of energy.

So for the new study, researchers at Tohoku and Osaka City Universities set out to find a new catalyst that could break plastics down at lower temperatures. The team found that combining ruthenium and cerium dioxide worked most effectively, creating a catalyst able to recycle polyolefinic plastics at just 200 °C (392 °F).

“Our approach acted as an effective and reusable heterogeneous catalyst, showing much higher activity than other metal-supported catalysts, working even under mild reaction conditions,” say Masazumi Tamura and Keiichi Tomishige, co-authors of the study. “Furthermore, a plastic bag and waste plastics could be transformed to valuable chemicals in high yields.”

The researchers say they were able to convert about 92 percent of the waste plastic into useful materials. As much as 77 percent of it became a liquid fuel, while 15 percent yielded wax, which should help make plastic recycling a more viable prospect.

This is far from the only plastic recycling method on the horizon. Just a few weeks ago a team from UC Berkeley reported a new process to turn polyethylene into a clingy new adhesive, while others are designing new plastics from the ground up to be easily recyclable.

The new study was published in the journal Applied Catalyst B: Environmental.

Source: Osaka City University

On the Web This Week, 7 November

On the Web This Week, 7 November

On the web this week, indoor farming takes a step forward, a volcanic eruption creates a new island, and Chile’s last circus elephant retires.

Picture credit: Bowery

If you live in the U.S., the last time you ate a salad, the lettuce inside it almost certainly came from California or Arizona. But the geography of leafy greens is very slowly starting to change as the trend of indoor farming—growing greens in large warehouses using artificial light and automated technology—expands. The latest farm to open is in Baltimore. It’s the largest, so far, from the New York-based, tech-heavy startup Bowery.

Picture credit: GeoNet

An undersea volcanic eruption in the Tongan archipelago has sunk one island and created another one that is three times larger, according to a report by geologists released on Thursday.

Taaniela Kula, of the Tonga Geological Service, said the new island is estimated to be about 100 metres wide and 400 metres long, and is situated about 120 metres west of its now-submerged predecessor, Lateiki island.

Companies seeking to cut plastic use are tapping a vast source of raw materials: ocean garbage.

Coca-Cola Co. recently unveiled a bottle made in part of recycled marine litter. Interface Inc., the world’s biggest maker of carpet tiles, is weaving rugs with yarns produced from discarded fishing nets. Startups are raising funds to fish for plastics and make new products.

Picture credit: Julian Stratenschulte / Getty Images

Electrifying transportation is one of the biggest keys to solving the looming climate crisis. With more electric vehicles on the road and fewer gas-guzzlers, drivers burn less fossil fuels and put out fewer planet-heating gases into the atmosphere. But as electric vehicles become more popular, they’re posing another environmental challenge: what to do with their batteries once they’re off the road.

Picture credit: Donald Miralle/Getty Images

This week in Los Angeles, 15,000 people will be attending one of the biggest creativity conferences in the world, Adobe MAX. It’s not the kind of event that is normally associated with conservation, but this year is different. The creative community is getting involved in coral reef conservation and it might just help save an entire ecosystem.

Picture credit: Gregory Zamell/Shutterstock

Ramba the elephant spent 50 years all alone in a circus. The Asian elephant was first forced into circus life in Argentina and later in Chile. In 1997, she was “confiscated” from a circus called Los Tachuelas because she was suffering abuse and neglect.

Despite being “confiscated,” she actually had to stay with the circus, just wasn’t able to perform anymore. After many years of hard work on behalf of Chilean NGO Ecopolis and elephant experts Scott Blais and Kat Blais, Ramba was rescued and it marks the official end of performing circus elephants in Chile.

Picture credit: Apple TV Plus

Two movies this year feature prolonged scenes in which a dung beetle pushes a piece of poop in the middle of the African savannah. One of them is an emotional journey about a leader coming to terms with the full cycle of birth, life, and death, which ends with a poignant moment in the rain. The other is the live-action Lion King.

Apple TV Plus’ nature documentary The Elephant Queen does what Disney couldn’t: imbue emotional depth to its animal subjects and crafting a sweeping narrative across the African plains.

Did you enjoy this week’s stories? Comment below and let us know! If you’re looking for eco-friendly, sustainable products for your home and/or outdoor needs, please consider one of the products below. As an Amazon Affiliate, we earn a commission on sales, which helps us to keep up our mission of keeping you entertained and informed.