Invented by Per Just Andersen, Simon K. Hodson, EARTHSHELL SPE LLC
The EARTHSHELL SPE LLC invention works as followsCompositions, methods and systems for manufacturing articles, especially containers and packaging materials with a highly inorganically-filled matrix. Mixing an organic polymer binder, water and one or more aggregate materials with fibers and optional admixtures to create the right proportions for the article that meets the required performance criteria will produce suitable inorganically-filled mixtures. To form the desired article, a portion is molded from the inorganically-filled mixtures. After the article has reached form stability, it is taken out of the mold and left to harden. These articles could have properties that are substantially the same as articles made from conventional materials such paper, paperboard or polystyrene. They are especially useful in mass-producing containers, particularly food and beverage containers.
Background for Systems for molding articles with an organically filled organic polymer matrix.
The present invention concerns compositions and methods of molding articles with a highly organically filled organic polymer matrix. These articles can be molded in a variety shapes, including containers and other packaging materials. They are also highly flexible, tough, flexible, tough, tough, tough, strong, and thin. These articles are cheaper and more eco-friendly than articles made of conventional materials, such as paper, plastic, polystyrene or glass. They are particularly useful for the production of disposable food containers and beverages used in fast food industries, and other packaging materials.
Materials like paper, paperboard and plastic are used in large quantities in the manufacturing of articles such containers, separators and dividers lids lids tops and other packaging materials. Modern packaging and processing techniques allow for a wide range of liquid and solid goods to store, package, and ship in these packaging materials, while protecting them from harmful elements.
Containers, and other packaging materials, protect goods from environmental influences. Many goods are protected from gases, moisture and light, vermin, microorganisms and vermin, as well as vibration, leaking or spilling. Many packaging materials can also be used to communicate information to consumers, including the source of manufacture, contents and advertising.
Most containers and other packaging materials, including disposable containers, are made of paper, paperboard or plastic. In storing and dispensing soft drinks and juices, as well as beer and processed foods, more than 100 billion aluminum cans and billions of glass bottles are produced each year. Packaging containers, and especially disposable containers made from these materials, are common outside of the food-and-beverage industry. Every year, huge quantities of paper-based articles are produced from primarily tree-derived paper pulp. The United States consumes approximately 51/2 million tonnes of paper annually for packaging purposes. This is only 15% of total domestic paper production.
There has been much debate about which of the traditional materials (e.g. paper, paperboard or plastic), is the most harmful to the environment. Consciousness-raising organizations have convinced many people to substitute one material for another in order to be more environmentally \”correct.\” The debate often misses the point that each of these materials has its own unique environmental weaknesses. When viewed in the context of a specific environmental problem, one material might be superior to another. However, it may not take into account other, more serious, issues associated with the material.
Environmental groups have been expressing concern about polystyrene products in recent years, especially containers and other packaging materials. Although polystyrene is an inert material, it can be made using a wide range of hazardous chemicals as well as starting materials. Polystyrene that has not been polymerized is highly reactive, and poses a risk to the health of those who have to handle it. Residues of benzene, a known carcinogen and mutagen, can be found in styrene.
Chlorofluorocarbons, or “CFCs”, in the production of polystyrene products (either blown or expanded), are more dangerous. CFCs have been shown to cause the destruction of the ozone. CFCs are highly volatile liquids that have been used in the manufacturing of foams including blown polystyrene. They were used to “expand” or “blow” polystyrene. This foamed material is then molded into cups, plates and trays. Even if you use less harmful blowing agents, such as pentanes and HCFC, they can still be very harmful. It would be a good idea to eliminate them.
Companies have been under pressure to abandon the use of polystyrene in favor more sustainable materials. Some environmental groups advocate a temporary return of natural products, such as paper and other products made from wood pulp. These products are thought to be biodegradable. However, there are other environmental groups that support the contrary view to reduce the destruction of trees and forest depletion.
Paper products may be biodegradable, but they have not been shown to cause the destruction of the ozone. Recent studies have shown that paper production has a greater impact on the environment than polystyrene. The wood pulp and paper industry is one of the top five polluters in the United States. Products made from paper, for example, require ten times more steam and fourteen to twenty-fifteen times as many electricity as a polystyrene equivalent. They also need twice the cooling water. Numerous studies have shown that the effluent of paper manufacturing has ten to one hundred times as many contaminants as the polystyrene foam production process.
In addition to the harmful toxin dioxin, which is a byproduct of paper production, Dioxin, or more accurately, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo[b,e][1,4]dioxin, is a highly toxic contaminant, and is extremely dangerous even in very low quantities. Dioxin can cause severe weight loss in both animals and humans, as well as anorexia and hematoporphyria. Experts in the field agree that dioxin can cause cancer.
The high energy required to make paper is another problem in the paperboard and paper paper manufacturing process. This includes the energy needed to process wood pulp until the fibers become sufficiently frayed and delignified that they are self-binding according to web physics principles. It is also necessary to extract the water from conventional paper slurries. These slurries contain water up to 99.5% in volume. It is essential to extract as much water from the slurry as possible before drying can begin. A lot of the water that is lost during dewatering is often discarded in the environment.
The manufacturing of metal sheets into containers, especially cans made from aluminum and tin, blowing glass bottles and shaping ceramic containers requires high energy due to the need to melt the metal and separate work on it. These processes and energy requirements are not only costly but also cause significant heat, air and water pollution. Glass can be recycled but the glass that ends up in landfills cannot be. Broken glass shards can be very dangerous and persist for many years.
While some of these pollution issues are being addressed, it is resulting in the increased use of energy and the substantial increase in capital requirements for manufacturing facilities. While recycling programs have received significant attention, not all raw material requirements can be met by recycling. Most raw materials are still from nonrenewable sources.
Even paper and paperboard, which many believe to be biodegradable can remain in landfills for years or even decades. They are protected from light, air, water, and sunlight, all of which are necessary for normal biodegradation. Reports have been made that newspapers and telephone books were found in garbage dumps after being buried for many decades. It is not uncommon to treat, coat or impregnate papers with protective materials that further slow down or prevent their degradation.
Another problem is paper, paperboard and polystyrene. Some of these require expensive organic starting materials. Although paper and paperboard are made from trees, they are not renewable in the strictest sense of the term. Therefore, using large amounts of non-renewable raw materials to make articles is unsustainable and not sustainable in the long-term. The manufacturing of packaging stock materials, such as paper pulp, styrene or metal sheets, is very energy-intensive, produces significant amounts of water pollution and requires substantial capital requirements.
Based on the above, the debate shouldn’t be about which material is more harmful or less to the environment. It should instead focus on the question: Can we find or develop an alternative material that will solve all or most of the environmental problems associated each of these presently-used materials?
C. Inorganic Materials
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