We have searched long and wide for R&D and innovative materials that positively changed and impacted the world, here is our Top 8:
Oil Absorbing Sponge
Oils spills is a worldwide known issue that endangers sea life, furthermore, when it comes to cleaning it up it is extremely problematic. The main issue with oil spills is that oil, as we know, not only collects on the surface, but it can also drift under the water leading to major issues when trying to clean it up using traditional solutions.
As this was an ongoing issue, scientists have created a sponge-like material that can absorb over 90 times its weight in oil, and has the ability to be wrung out and used again for over another 100 times. How the sponge was created, enables it to pull oil from the water (not just the surface of it), leading to a better clean-up and less impact on the environment.
The next R&D and innovative materials is Braeon. This is a polymer ribbon that is claimed to be the lightest, strongest and most adaptable material that’s ever been invented. These high-strength polymeric fibres are bonded into a thermoplastic, which can be heated to mould into a variety of shapes, depending on necessity. The strength of a single ribbon is tremendous, being able to withstand over 2,500 pounds of pull strength, it has even been used to tow a 5000-pound truck up a 30-degree hill.
Pineapple leather is the next R&D and innovative materials. For most, vegan leather sounds ethical, however, synthetic leather is usually plastic based, which as we know, negatively affect the environment. Pineapple leather is a fully sustainable, natural “leather” that is created from plant fibres waste, as opposed to traditional leather from cows, or from the oil industry. The fibres that are used to manufacture pineapple leather are by-products of pineapple harvest, meaning no extra land, pesticides or fertilisers are required to produce. Additionally, it is an extra revenue stream for pineapple farmers.
Similar to Pineapple leather, it is also a by-product just this time it’s from the fishing industry. Chitosan is a polysaccharide, which is a sugar, and it can be extracted from the shells of shrimps, crabs, lobsters and other shellfish. What makes it unique is its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that can be applied to many fields such as medical, pharmacology and dental.
Chitosan is blended with viscose fibres to create an antibacterial and antimicrobial textile that helps prevents odour and is used by people with sensitive skin or issues due to their properties. Moreover, due to the way chitosan is structurally bound, as opposed to coating, its antibacterial and antimicrobials properties on the fabric are kept permanently, even after being washed.
Another key use is in agriculture, where it is used as a natural seed treatment, plant growth enhancer and as an ecologically friendly biopesticide substance that boosts the plant’s ability to fight off fungal infections.
Graphene, is our top choice as one of the most innovative discoveries, with many applications.
Two Russian scientists at the University of Manchester, Andrei Geim and Kostya Novoselov, were working with flakes of carbon graphite in an attempt to investigate its electrical properties. They decided to use sticky Scotch tape to see if they could make the flakes thinner. They used the tape to peel off a layer of graphite from the block and then repeatedly peeled off layers until they managed to get down to flakes that were only a few atoms thick. After they soon realised that by repeatedly peeling back the tape they could go down to the thinnest possible layer of one atom thick, the new material with unique and immensely interesting properties was discovered.
Now MIT researchers managed to compress and fuse graphene flakes into a “sponge-like” configuration that has a density of 5% and is over 200 times stronger than steel. Additionally, its applications don’t end there, Rice University has been able to create graphene out of wood, which makes it renewable, meaning it can help deal with the worldwide growing electronics waste issue.
3D printing technology has many applicable uses in a number of fields, especially the medical field. These Biolinks are artificially constructed living tissue by outputting layer-upon-layer of living cells. Bioprinting is currently experimental, with numerous successes, in the future, bioprinters could revolutionize medical practice as yet another element of the New Industrial Convergence. Organs, bone stents and pieces of the skull can all be printed and individually shaped for each patient.
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