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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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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