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Can solar energy compete with fossil fuels?
By Stefanie Heerwig
Taking more than four years to build and costing $2.5 billion, the Invanpah solar plant opened recently in California. The world's biggest solar plant is estimated to produce as much electricity as a coal- or natural-gas-fired power plant. And with tough renewable portfolio standards like in California, more of these plants are here to come. According to the Edison Electric Institute, such utility-sized solar plants will soon appear across the United States with 232 under construction, in testing or to be granted with permits. One question, however, remains: Can solar compete with fossil fuels in terms of price?
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SPE HIGHLIGHTS

Improving starch-based materials for packaging
SPE Plastics Research Online
Replacing non-biodegradable polymers with biodegradable polymers has reduced pollution caused by polymer wastes. Natural (rather than synthetic) biopolymers offer the additional advantage of renewability, and, among natural polymers, starch possesses an attractive combination of availability, low price, and high performance. As a result, it is regarded as one of the most promising renewable materials.
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PLASTICS INDUSTRY NEWS


The growing pains of bioplastics
Plastics Engineeing
Everyone loves biopolymers. They're made from renewable materials, and so don't use up fossil fuel resources and should result in fewer overall greenhouse gas emissions. And many of them are naturally biodegradable and so won't litter the environment after use.
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  The Principles of Plug Design

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PE prices jump 4 cents, PP down 1 cent
Plastics News
The never-ending winter of 2014 played a role in North American polyethylene resin prices climbing in February — but the weather was not enough to stop regional polypropylene prices from sliding in that month as well.
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Can solar energy compete with fossil fuels?
By Stefanie Heerwig
Taking more than four years to build and costing $2.5 billion, the Invanpah solar plant opened recently in California. The world's biggest solar plant is estimated to produce as much electricity as a coal- or natural-gas-fired power plant.

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Developing bipolar plates for fuel cells
Plastics Engineering
The development of conductive polymer composites is a promising and growing field of research. CPCs are highly resistant to corrosion and have low densities, two properties that might result in the materials replacing metals in several applications.

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Lego investigates shift to bioplastics
Plastics Today
Lego, the global producer of children's building blocks, expects to convert to bioplastics as part of a long-term sustainability program. "I know it will happen; it is just a matter of time," Alan Rasmussen, a materials engineer at Lego said recently in a presentation at Innovation Takes Root, a conference sponsored by Nature Works in Orlando, Fla.

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Mind the gap: Lost opportunities
Materials Recycling World
Across Europe, although the generation of post-consumer plastic waste generation has not really increased over the last eight years, the rates of recycling and energy recovery have increased every year. In 2012, almost 62 percent of all plastic waste was recovered and prevented from being landfilled. Indeed, 26 percent was recycled and 36 percent was recovered through energy from waste technologies. This also means that 38 percent of all plastic post-consumer waste is still landfilled.
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Cheap polymers twist into superhuman muscles
Chemistry World
An international team has unmasked the hidden superpowers of humble sewing thread and fishing line. Twisting nylon and polyethylene into coils, they made artificial muscles that can lift loads over 100 times heavier than human muscle of the same length and weight. They could replace motors in many uses, particularly robotics, and enable new technologies, such as smart clothing, says Ray Baughman from the University of Texas, Dallas. He's also excited that the threads used cost just $5/kg. "They could be easily deployed in the developing world, children could make and use them," he tells Chemistry World.
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Report: Hundreds of foods in US contain 'ADA' plastics chemical
Reuters
Nearly 500 foods found on grocery store shelves in the United States, including many foods labeled as "healthy," contain a potentially hazardous industrial plastics chemical, according to a report issued recently by a health research and advocacy group.
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California endangered species: Plastic bags
The New York Times
On a recent drizzly day, Esha Moya found herself standing outside a grocery store in South Los Angeles, her half-dozen paper bags falling apart in the rain, wishing she had a few small items that had been free and plentiful her entire life but are now banned in this city: plastic shopping bags. "I hate this," said Moya, a telemarketer and a mother of two. She has begun stockpiling plastic bags at home because paper bags "are always breaking," she said. "It's stupid, and it makes it really hard for us."
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PCPC's DryCleaner furnaces are designed to safely and economically remove small amounts (1 to 2% by weight) of varnish, insulation, epoxy, paint, oil, grease, plastics, etc. primarily from electric motor stators, transformers, end bells, engine blocks and other metal parts.
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University researchers aim to convert plastic bags to biofuels
The Daily Illini
Each year 31 million tons of plastic goes to the landfill and doesn't leave. Through his research, Brajendra Kumar Sharma hopes to inspire the addition of another "R" to a familiar phrase: reduce, reuse, recycle — recover. Sharma, head researcher on this project and senior research scientist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, is specifically looking into the ways plastic grocery bags can be recycled into biofuels. Americans use almost 100 billion plastic grocery bags each year, most of which end up in landfills.
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Bioplastic utilizes long-chain polysaccharide found in shrimp shells
Nanowerk News
Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute have developed a method to carry out large-scale manufacturing of everyday objects — from cell phones to food containers and toys — using a fully degradable bioplastic isolated from shrimp shells. The objects exhibit many of the same properties as those created with synthetic plastics, but without the environmental threat. It also trumps most bioplastics on the market today in posing absolutely no threat to trees or competition with the food supply.
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    Reusable caps offer solution to recycling
    European Plastics News
    Clever Caps bottle-caps, designed by Brazil-based packaging company Clever Pack, offer a new environmentally friendly way of reusing caps. Clever Pack says its caps leave the factory with two lives already, the first being an effective plastic closure system and the second being a plastic mounting block that is compatible with other caps and Lego-like building blocks already on sale.
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    Improvement in polymers for aviation
    Space Daily
    We live surrounded by polymers and today, rather than come up with new polymers, there is a tendency to modify them in order to obtain new applications. A study by the UPV/EHU's Polymer Technology Group has obtained splendid results, made possible by the use of carbon nanotubes, in the improvement in mechanical properties and electrical conductivity of the poly(ether imide) polymer, used for developing aircraft parts,among other things.
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    Plastics get the blame for Apple's iPhone 5c failure
    Plastics News
    Don Loepp writes: "OK, I confess, it was exciting when Apple Inc. unveiled the iPhone 5c in September, and design chief Jony Ive called it 'beautifully, unapologetically plastic.' But now the experts are calling the 5c a flop. And despite a host of real differences between the 5s and 5c, the blame is starting to settle on a familiar place. It was the plastic."
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    TRENDING ARTICLES
    Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

        Reshoring gives a boost to US manufacturers (Plastics News)
    Solar energy process technology developments to watch (By Don Rosato)
    Effect of kaolin and calcined kaolin loading on styrene butadiene rubber composites (SPE Plastics Research Online)
    The "Lure Makers" — plastics, anyone? (Yak Angler)
    Shale gas is continuing to grow, along with new resin projects (Plastics News)

    Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.


    Juggling carbon fiber supply and demand?
    Composites World
    Two recent and apparently unrelated news events in the composites industry may have long-term implications for the supply and demand of aerospace-grade carbon fiber and carbon fiber prepreg. First, Boeing announced that it will build the carbon fiber composite wings for the 777X at it's massive assembly facility in Everett, Wash.
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    The global production of bioplastics will be able to grow by 400 percent in 2016
    JEC Composites Magazine
    According to Miguel A. Sibila, the current global production capacity of bioplastics, including both biodegradable and bio-based plastics is about 1.5 million tonnes, which supposes a total revenue of about 4,400 million Euros. In addition, for the upcoming years, a significant growth of the bioplastic market growth is expected. Some sources estimate an increase of the global production capacity by 400 percent, reaching values of about 5,8 million tonnes in 2016. In terms of revenue, this bioplastics market would reach more than 13,700 million Euros.
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    SPE Industry Update
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