Stories tagged sustainable materials

Like the Spiderman of silkworms: I guess.
Like the Spiderman of silkworms: I guess.Courtesy Tom or Jerry
Is this maybe a cool thing? Spider silk from genetically engineered silk worms. Or, at least, hybrid spider/silk worm silk.

Why do we want silk worms that produce spider silk, when they're already so good at pooping out their own worm silk, you ask? Because spider silk is awesome. It's super strong (as strong or stronger than most of our best artificial materials), and spiders manage to manufacture it at low temperatures, low pressures, and with water as a solvent (and it would be great if we could make strong materials that way). However, unlike wormy little silk worms (caterpillars, anyway), spiders don't play nice—you can have lots of silk worms together, and they'll all be happy to spin little silk cocoons, but if you put a lot of spiders together, they'll be most happy killing each other. Also, they are creepy.

Genetic engineers had managed to insert genes for the production of spider silk protein into goats, who expressed them by producing the material in their milk, but I don't believe it had all the qualities of true spider silk, and I don't imagine that's an ideal way to produce it.

But now scientists at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Wyoming, and Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. have succeeded in transplanting spider silk genes into silk worms. The silk they produce isn't quite as strong as spider silk, but researchers believe that they may eventually be able to get genetically modified worms to produce silk even stronger than native spider silk.

Interesting, interesting.

May
06
2009

Green machine: This race car is made from sustainable materials and burn a biodiesel fuel composed of waste material used in making chocolate.
Green machine: This race car is made from sustainable materials and burn a biodiesel fuel composed of waste material used in making chocolate.Courtesy Yahoo UK
Powered by the byproducts created in making chocolate and constructed out of materials created from vegetables, this is no ordinary race car.

In fact, the WorldFirst Formula 3 race car unveiled this week in Great Britain bills itself at the world’s first sustainable race car. The car, which is being prepped for racing in the Formula 3 series, is opening eyes on may levels.

Initial tests had the car going at 60 miles per hour. With a few more tweaks, designers estimate that it should go at around at a competitive 145 miles per hour.

Powering that speed is a special turbo-diesel engine that runs on bio-diesel fuel. The current fuel formulation uses waste products leftover from making chocolate.

Other “green” components of the car include a steering wheel made from a polymer created out of carrots, wing mirrors constructed from a potato starch base and brake pads that have cashew nut shells as a component. The car’s seat includes materials created out of flax fiber and soy bean oil.

Want to learn more? Here are links to two different stories on the WorldFirst Formula 3 car.

With the Indy 500 coming up, this new eco-friendly car could prove to be a boost to drivers in that marathon race. If they get hungry during the race, they could just take a bite of the steering wheel or driver’s seat.