Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Thar's Work in That There Landfill - Science

A waste material from the paper and pulp industry soon could be made into anything from tennis rackets to cars, according to new findings by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists.

Credit: Texas A&M AgriLife Research

Waste material from the paper and pulp industry soon could be made into anything from tennis rackets to cars.

"We have overcome one of the industry's most challenging issues by discovering how to make good quality carbon fiber from waste," said Dr. Joshua Yuan, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology in College Station.

The research was published recently in Green Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Phys.org:  Mountains of waste could lead to new US manufacturing, jobs

Ed:  I don't want to work in a landfill!

Oy, mate, what did you think was going to happen when you got a degree in English Lit?

Ed:  a job at The Guardian?

You could get that by reading Cosmo.

About 50 million tons of lignin—or structural part of a plant—piles up each year as waste from the U.S. paper and pulping industry, he said. Additional lignin could come from biorefineries that use plants to produce ethanol, yielding another 100 million to 200 million tons of lignin waste each year. Yet only about 2 percent of the lignin waste is currently recycled into new products, Yuan said.

"Lignin is considered as one of the most abundant biopolymers in the world," he said. "All this waste accumulates, and it will be great to use it for something."

- PO

Whether you want the job or not, it appears there may be plenty of them.

"We are still improving and fine-tuning the quality, but eventually this carbon fiber could be used for windmills, sport materials and even bicycles and cars," he said. "Carbon fiber is much lighter but has the same mechanical strength as other materials used for those products now. This material can be used for a lot of different applications.

"The beauty of this technology is that it allows us to use lignin completely. Basically what we do is fractionate lignin so that the high molecular weight fraction can be used for carbon fiber and the low molecular weight fraction can be used use for bioplastics and products like asphalt binder modifier used on roads."

- PO

Carbon fiber equals money which should mean good-paying jobs.

It sounds as noble as you may want.

"And the entire supply chain is in the United States, which means the jobs would be here. The biomass is grown, harvested and transported here. It would be difficult to ever ship that much waste to another country for production. It all stays here," Yuan said. "It would put agriculture production and industry together in a bioeconomy making renewable products."

- PO

Another source of dollars from a landfill is in a different form of energy since they're blowing out methane from every seam and often catch fire.

Ed:  what about robos?

Mostly they're likely to be used for hefting rubbish about when it's either too hard or we just don't want to do it.  For robo replacement of higher-level jobs, of course they can out-think you but the more important question is whether they're a better value and that's on you.  If you let the corporate world push you to sixty hours a week because of that as they always do when you're not organized, you already lost; the money isn't worth it.

I believe a corporation can fast-depreciate something over three years which means they expect to get a payoff in that time, after which their only costs are for a maintenance contract.  If that maintenance for the robo is lower than your salary, you're gone.

No comments: