Sweet deal: Yarn made from molasses is first 100% plant-based polyester

A Japanese company has created a polyester yarn derived completely from bio-based materials.

Typically, polyester is made from a process extremely reliant on oil. It is non-biodegradable and produced from petrochemicals in an energy-sucking, heavily polluting process that takes up large quantities of water and uses harmful chemicals.

Eco-friendly yarn certainly isn’t a new concept, but bio-based materials of the past were still comprised of 60% oil-derived chemicals. For textiles claiming to be environmentally healthy, their high fossil fuel content is far from impact-free.

The new yarn, by chemistry multinational Toray, is changing that as the first polyester made entirely from plants. The company creates the yarn using a bio-polymer of molasses—yes, the same molasses as the sweet, thick syrup you can bake with.

shutterstock_99756866

The molasses is sourced from sugar production factories in India and Brazil, where it is a natural and plentiful bi-product. By using molasses instead of fossil fuels, Toray is cutting down on waste from these facilities and using a biodegradable, eco-friendly material.

The technology to create this plant-based polyester is still in development, meaning that the yarn can only be produced on a small scale and is not yet ready for distribution to the masses.

However, Toray has announced that it will begin to use bio-polymers in its textiles instead of making 100% petroleum-based polyesters as a way to jumpstart sustainable practices within the industry.

They will also continue development of the bio-based polyester yarn until it can be made in larger quantities and sold commercially.

“Our vision is to achieve polyester production without using crude oil resources, as Mother Earth’s gifts need to be protected,” stated Kojo Sasaki, a member of Toray’s Green Innovation Team.

shutterstock_146426759

Fashion today is constantly changing, and meeting the high demand for new styles fashions entails an ever-increasing rate of textile consumption that is reaching unsustainable levels.

Clothes have become disposable even as the materials we use to produce them grow more and more scarce.

As a result, the textiles industry is one of many contributing to the climate change that threatens to reshape the environment as we know it.

Slowing this process will require a major shift in our cultural mindset from throwaway to sustainable fashion, and this plant-based polyester is a step in the right direction.

Creating new yarns from plants could help reduce environmental impact by eliminating the use of fossil fuels and replacing them with more sustainable materials.


Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC