26-04-21 Plastics developments and its application beneficts
"... despite the biased vision of a part of the society in terms of plastic materials, these materials are versatile and universal..."
"... this universality means that we can find plastic materials in any application, anywhere, and in any sector..."
"...from saving our lives to space exploration, so the most powerful tool we have is information and the ability to disseminate it correctly..."
What can plastic materials do to help solve environmental issues?
.... who, exactly, is responsible for climate change? a large part of this responsibility, to put it simply, falls on a whole series of gases that cause a widely known greenhouse effect. Many of these gases have in common that they are methane-type carbon-based compounds, CO2, among others, and this constitutes what I call the ‘carbon balance’, which needs to be restored.
"CHALLENGE" "Plastics, since they are carbon-based products derived from various hydrocarbons, can play a key role in this process of restoring the balance and reducing the concentration of these harmful gases in the atmosphere. "SOLUTIONS": This involves capturing them and, for example, transforming them into plastics or their precursors. This is what we call ‘fine chemistry’. (...) Using CO2 or methane as a source for manufacturing plastics is one of the most ground-breaking responses – we must minimise climate change and play a key role in the efficient capture of these gases, both in industrial environments and in urban emissions. In this sense, for example, polymeric membranes – again the universality and versatility of plastics – are the future in terms of a clean and efficient capture of CO2 both environmentally and industrially.
The sustainable and safe production of food is another issue to which plastics have been providing answers for years.
PROBLEM We are aware of the great media impact that the issue of waste from food packaging generates in our society. SOLUTION Common areas that we are going to focus on will be related to weight reduction and increased food protection. In this sense, when we talk about protection, we do not only refer to durability and shelf life, but also protection.
Minimising the risks of contamination and proliferation of microbial and/or viral agents is of critical importance, since it is well known that new strains with increasing resistance and persistence are a threat for the present and the future.
Food safety is therefore one of the main focuses including the advanced sensorisation of the entire food packaging chain, which will have a major impact on both the quality and performance of food packaging. Artificial noses, self-repairing and smart packaging and shape memory will be recurring concepts (...)
What technological tools will be needed to make all these solutions a reality?
All these innovations and future developments must be associated inevitably with modern, cutting-edge tools that help to make them a reality. 3D printing, and, mainly, we gave special relevance to the arrival of Industry 4.0.
Times change and we are already talking about the next revolution, the so-called ‘Industry 5.0’, which, in my opinion, is nothing more than an organic evolution of 4.0. Beyond organisation and communication, 5.0 focuses on fundamentally humanistic paradigms. Everything is based on the development of robotics and artificial intelligence as tools, not to replace human labour, but to enhance its intrinsic value in complex industrial processes. Undoubtedly, the application of artificial intelligence systems in such industrial processes is already emerging as one of the archetypes that will be fundamental in the second half of the 21st century. Its application implies a revolution in all areas, from more environmentally sustainable processes to stricter and more rigid control over productivity and the resources allocated to it, minimisation of systematic or casual errors, and even support for creativity such as the optimisation of industrial designs, selection and development of new materials.
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