Mud, the New Plastic

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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Seems like we may have a means of weaning ourselves off oil. At least plastics made from oil.

The research from the University of Tokyo, published in Nature, describes a new and better “plastic” brewed from clay, water, a thickening agent (sodium polyacrylate) and an organic “molecular glue.”

The end result is a super strong, self-healing, transparent and elastic hydrogel composed of 98 percent water and bound by supramolecular forces, otherwise known as “smart molecules.”

Better yet, the gel takes just 3 minutes to form, and making it requires no understanding of the chemical process involved, reports New Scientist:

“Toughness, self-healing and robustness are just some of the initial physical properties that will be found for this new class of materials,” Craig Hawker [of UCSB, not involved in the study] says. “I predict that this approach will lead to the design of even more impressive materials in the near future.”

This is big. Big enough to score an ultra-prestigious Nature publication. Maybe big enough to significantly change the future. Good old mud.
 

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

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