Technology for the Future


-The industrial scene has seen rapid changes and growth, over the years
due to continuing research. And today, new challenges have to be faced due
to escalating costs and environmental issues. Scientists and even people
with little or no technical know-how are coming up with revolutionary

Polyurethane Plastics From Canola Oil

Like most generic vegetable oils, Canola oil has been relegated to the
kitchens of North American households. Although more exotic and expensive
products, such as Castor oil have been used extensively in the production
of plastic resins, Canola oil has never amounted to much, other than as salad
dressings. However, that may change soon.

A research team from a Canadian university,has successfully experimented
with Canola oil, instead of the traditional petroleum based resources to
produce the basic building blocks for polyurethanes ( PUR). These are chemically
similar to traditional PUR, in that they also rely on a chemical reaction between
a polyol and a di-isocyanate. This patented technology can create a versatile
number of PUR applications, ranging from soft flexible and rigid foams to elastomers
of different types. Although these polyols may have minor differences in viscosity
(thickness) and reaction times, this Canola based polyurethanes will not pose any
changes for the urethane producers.

When commercialized, these bio-based PUR will offer significant benefits for North
Americans, in both farming and processing sectors. According to statistics, the current
annual production of Canola oil is expected to double, during the next five years.
For the PUR end-users and the urethane processors, these cost-effective and readily
available resins will give a break from high prices and the instability associated with
too much dependence on petro-based feedstock.

Recycling Of Plastics Waste

Plastics have been replacing most traditional materials for some time now and the
escalating demands have prompted the resin manufacturers to greater volumes every year.
For resin processors, bigger volumes means larger volumes of waste, although some of it
are recycled in various ways but most of it ends up in landfills, creating problems for
the environment. True, resin manufacturers are now incorporating bio-degradable additives
to lessen the environment pollution but it is a losing battle.

In India, in a little known rural town, a group of people, with little or no knowledge
of science or chemistry, have through experimentation, come up with a novel way of recycling
plastics waste, in such a way so as to minimize pollution. They have perfected a method
of using this waste in road building.

The plastics waste is first collected and then shredded into small pieces using a
granulator or shredding machine. These are then added to heated bitumen, up tp 60% by
volume and mixed, with the heat easily melting the plastic waste. When this mixture is
is used on road surfaces, it gives a very smooth and flexible coating. According to reports,
road surfaces made thus, do not crack, can bear high loads and water from rains does not
affect it. It is also reported, that the authorities after scientific checking are so
impressed, that they are giving their fullest support for this exciting project.

The Next-Generation Fuel – Bio-Diesel From Jathropha Seeds

In most countries, bio-diesel is used as an alternate fuel to petro-based products
but on a much smaller scale. Plant oils are big in fuel diesels and are generally produced
from Soya, Rapseed, Palm, Canola oils and so on and bio-diesels from these have great

The latest to enter the bio-diesel arena – Jathropha seed oils have much greater
potential than any of these. Jathropha has been around for some time now but is still
relatively unknown as the plantations are small and the world has not as yet, realized
its full value in terms of bio-diesel. The few countries into Jathropha are – India, Brazil
and the Philippines.

Some of the many advantages of bio-diesel from Jathropha are –

1. Arid lands are ideal for these plants.
2. Water is not required after planting.
3. As it is crushed, the unrefined oil can be used.
4. Can be blended with normal diesel and used in cars.
5. Can be refined and used as pure diesel.
6. Clean fuel, with no emissions.
7. Production costs are very much cheaper than all others.

Recent environment concerns, for example the Kyoto Protocol, have prompted the world
to think seriously about the damage that is being done to the atmosphere. Still many
countries are reluctant about the transition from petro-based products to other alternatives
mainly due to economic and other factors. However, according to reports, around twenty
countries have taken steps towards the resurgence of the use of bio-fuels, which hopefully,
would slow down the environment pollution factor somewhat. Accelerated and more efficient
programs throughout the world are needed, if any significant progress is to be made.

-end – 804 words.-