New hope for plastic recycling with IBM’s VolCat technology

March 6, 2019 by  
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Think how much more material would be reused if plastic recycling didn’t entail washing, sorting and individual processing. Now, IBM researchers have developed a new chemical process called VolatileCatalyst that eliminates these steps. VolCat recycling grinds up plastics, adds a chemical catalyst and cooks them at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius. The chemicals eat through polymer strands, producing a fine white powder ready to be made into new containers. By heating PET with ethylene glycol and the catalyst, lab workers depolymerize plastic . After distillation, filtration, purification and cooling, scientists eventually recover usable matter called a monomer—in this case the white powder. This process digests and cleans the ground plastic, separating contaminants like dyes, glue and food residue. Related: 6 places to find the best recycled building materials PET is an abbreviation for polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical name for polyester. This type of plastic is used to manufacture containers for two-liter bottles of soft drinks, water bottles, salad dressings, cooking oil, shampoo, liquid hand soap and carry-out food containers. It’s even found in carpet, clothing and tennis balls. DuPont chemists first synthesized PET in the 1940s, probably never guessing that 70 years later between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic would wind up in the ocean each year. Humans have produced more than 8 billion metric tons of plastic since its invention. About half of new plastic becomes trash each year. By 2050, some scientists project there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean . VolCat developers hope to reverse this destructive trend. According to the researchers’ statement, “In the next five years, plastic recycling advancements like VolCat could be adopted around the globe to combat global plastic waste . People at the grocery store buying a bottle of soda or container of strawberries will know that the plastic they’ve purchased won’t end up in the ocean, but instead will be repurposed and put back on the shelf.” + IBM Images via Shutterstock

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New hope for plastic recycling with IBM’s VolCat technology

4 rules for effective corporate governance

October 21, 2017 by  
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Although there’s no cookie-cutter approach for everyone, companies such as Shell and IBM have used these guidelines to establish structure and direction.

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4 rules for effective corporate governance

Tim O’Reilly on the WTF economy – What’s the future?

September 30, 2016 by  
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What’s the future of work? While engaging some of the world’s smartest people in fields as diverse as robotics, AI, the on-demand economy, and the economics of labor, Silicon Valley’s leading intellectual describes the key drivers of some of today’s most successful startups and about what technology like driverless cars, Siri, Google Now, Microsoft Cortana, and IBM Watson teach us about the future; specifically, how he’s starting to see their connections and how this will catalyze positive action across all industries.

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Tim O’Reilly on the WTF economy – What’s the future?

Beyond panels and turbines

September 30, 2016 by  
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Increasingly, renewable energy technologies are moving from standalone solutions to integrated systems that align companies energy, finance, operation and resilience objectives. As the number of clean-energy solutions grows, so do the opportunities to create a portfolio of approaches — including both onsite and offsite wind and solar systems. In this conversation, a leading independent power producer and one of its largest customers discuss the secrets of their success.

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Beyond panels and turbines

Amip Shah on the triple-bottom-line case for IoT

September 30, 2016 by  
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The Internet of Things (IoT) has changed the way we connect and interact with the world, from wellness and health monitoring to smart utility meters, integrated logistics, and self-driving cars. What is the potential impact beyond “things” — on our workforce, our communities and the way in which we work? Hewlett Packard Labs has been asking these questions. Learn how they are harnessing IoT innovations to drive solutions that work for both people and the planet. 

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Amip Shah on the triple-bottom-line case for IoT

IBM creates first-ever artificial neurons that behave like the real thing

August 4, 2016 by  
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IBM researchers in Switzerland have created an artificial neuron that behaves just like the real thing . For the first time in history, artificial phase-change neurons have been grouped together (in a population of 500 synthesized in a lab) to process a neurological signal in more or less the same way that biological neurons transmit messages. They can be made exceptionally small and are similar in power and energy usage to biological neurons, and can even produce results with random variations, also just like biological neurons. For non-scientists, the importance of this discovery may not be immediately apparent. IBM ’s artificial neuron , developed by a research team in Zurich, is quite literally the next best thing to a naturally created biological neuron. The lab-created version has all the same components of a biological neuron, including inputs (dendrites), a neuronal membrane (lipid bilayer) around the spike generator (soma, nucleus), and an output (axon). Likewise, its functions mimic those of its biological counterpart. Related: Scientists create the world’s first enzymes using synthetic biology In addition to all that, the artificial neurons are durable, made from well-known materials that can withstand trillions of switching cycles. They are tiny (around 90 nanometers) and researchers believe they can make them even smaller, possibly as minuscule as 14nm. The researchers started by creating 500 artificial neurons together in a chain capable of sending signals, which means the IBM team has created the closest artificial version of a biological neuron. In the next phase of research, the team will create a much larger population of artificial neurons, with thousands of individual units, and write software to push their capabilities to the limit. The study results were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Via Ars Technica Images via IBM

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IBM creates first-ever artificial neurons that behave like the real thing

Let your product do the talking: the rise of smart labels

July 29, 2016 by  
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Technologies from Avery Dennison, IBM and a Kodak-backed startup could usher in a new era of supply-chain transparency.

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Let your product do the talking: the rise of smart labels

Globally resilient enterprises: What do they look like?

November 2, 2015 by  
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About a decade ago, former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano wrote about the advent of “the globally integrated enterprise” in “Foreign Affairs.” He argued that such companies must be structurally, operationally and culturally different from the multinational corporations of the past so they can respond to complex supply and demand conditions.

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Globally resilient enterprises: What do they look like?

Why good governance is critical for sustainable cities

November 2, 2015 by  
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When there are leadership gaps, sustainability and urban planning fail to thrive. Case in point: Brazil’s favelas.

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Why good governance is critical for sustainable cities

White House gets serious about smart cities with $160 million pledge

September 16, 2015 by  
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AT&T, Autodesk, Cisco, GE, IBM and Siemens play starring roles in Washington’s latest smart-city play.

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White House gets serious about smart cities with $160 million pledge

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