Bio-plastics: Cashew nut computers?

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A unique plastic made from cashew nut shells could be used in consumer electronics by 2013.

Japanese company NEC Corporation has announced the development of a first-of-its kind biomass-based plastic -- bio-plastic - produced using non-edible plant resources such as cashew nut shells. The plastic is durable enough to be used in electronic equipment and NEC expects that with continued research bio-plastic could be used in a range of electronic devices by 2014.

The product would represent an environmentally friendly breakthrough in terms of alternative plastics as current variations, which mainly use plant cells and castor oil, suffer from low heat resistance and poor durability to water. The new bio-plastic, which NEC claims does not suffer from these shortcomings, could therefore pave the way for more durable and environmentally friendlier consumer electronic goods such as computers.

Bio-plastics have been gathering greater attention as an alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics which contribute to global warming and environmental pollution. However previously developed bio-plastics have used food sources in their production, sparking fears over the possibility of future food shortages.  

In August of this year manufacturer of cosmetics and household goods Procter and Gamble (P&G) announced the launch of environmentally friendly packaging made from sugarcane-derived plastics for their Pantene Pro V, CoverGirl and Max Factor Brands.

NEC will formally announce the development of a new bio-plastic at the chemical society of Japan on August 31.

 

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