biomaterial applications

  • 18 December 2020

    Circular Materials

    By Marco Capellini – CEO at MATREC English Version The article is based on Marco Capellini’s intervention at the second edition of Re-think-Circular Economy Forum last October 2020. Marco split his speech in 3 chapters. The first one, called “We can’t change what we can’t measure” is an extremely important topic that allows us to understand how the design of a product can measure the efficient use of resources. Why it is important to apply circularity measurement models? First of all, because circular economy must offer us tangible results in order to quantify the resources used; secondly, because it enables companies to define improvement strategies. Thirdly, to communicate clearly the results obtained, fourthly, to quantify the economic cycle of resources used in the input and output process. As Matrec, they are developing different projects to measure the circularity of the product: furniture, fashion services, food and others with particular attention to the type of material used. Generally they face 2 problems: many companies don’t know about circular economy business models and they think circular economy is just recycling waste; many companies don’t know how to apply the circular economy to product or services. For this reasons, Marco has designed a roadmap that let companies get a first view of circular economy and understand which KPI should be used for a metric definition. This roadmap could be an opportunity to understand the approaches to follow in a product circularity measurement project and choose the most coherent route to apply to products. The best solution would be consider all these aspects but this requires a lot of time and expenses. It is important to contextualize the product step by step, trying to improve the scope of measurement. For example it is possible to start with a qualitative approach and then move on...
  • 29 January 2020

    The incoming bioplastics

    By Giovanni Perotto – Engineer and Researcher at IIT English Version Giovanni Perotto, Engineer and Researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology, focused his speech on smart materials and bioplastics, presenting a very interesting speech on technologies developed to convert plant residues into bioplastics. In Europe in 2016, 55 million tons of vegetable waste was produced. This waste is unfortunately thrown, composted or incinerated, all solutions with low added value when not expensive.Perotto explained how in a simple carrot there are materials that nature has engineered for the function that the vegetable must carry out: growing, having a structure, working as long as it is needed and then being reintegrated into the environment once its use is over. The macromolecules inside the carrot like cellulose, pectin, lignin and hemicellulose, have the function of supporting the various parts of the vegetable.The focus of the research being carried out regards the ability to harness these properties to produce short-lived objects (single use, packaging) instead of using plastic. The aim is to obtain solutions to be used as an alternative to common plastic, making entire supply chains such as packaging and disposable plastic more sustainable from an environmental point of view. At the same time this will improve the economic sustainability of the food supply chain, turning all the plant biomass, that is currently being disposed, into a resource. These are the focus areas of his research at the Smart Materials laboratory of the Italian Institute of Technology: the development of technologies necessary to carry out this conversion and the work on vegetable waste materials in order to obtain a suitable performance and to facilitate the implementation of new Circular Economy systems.The goal is to convert what is available as a waste from the food industry, but to achieve this we need to...
  • 7 June 2019

    Biomaterials

    English Version Plastic is probably humanity’s biggest failure. Even today hundreds of millions of tons are produced, despite the risks it entails, for humans and ecosystems. The solution is biomaterials, substances obtained from organic elements (from fruit to plants, to mushrooms), biodegradable and potentially zero-impact. Let’s find out why today it is increasingly necessary to identify these types of solution and why some companies have already focused their core business on biomaterials. The huge problem of plastics In spite of good intentions and proclamations, the creation of plastic does not seem to stop globally. Historically, the production of this material has established itself in the first decades of the twentieth century and has not stopped growing until at least 2010. Estimates tell us that plastic production has grown from 1.5 million tons, globally, from the 1930s to the 280 million tons in 2010, with a 38% growth in the last 10 years of the reference period. Statista also reports that in 2017 the figure has risen further to 348 million tons. According to the portal, the greatest growth in recent years has occurred in non-European countries: in 2002 global production was in fact 200 million tons (almost half compared to today), but Europe has contributed to this growth “only” for 8 million tons. The quantity of materials deriving from the oil that we put into the environment, therefore, becomes abnormal. According to UNEP, the UN environmental program, 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the oceans every year, an enormous amount of material that will remain there for decades, if not centuries. A plastic bag takes 20 years to degrade, while bottles and cutlery can take up to a thousand years. In reality, the problem is even more serious than it seems: in nature, nothing is created and...
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