Wednesday, 23 May, 2007 Politics

Plastic Blood and Airplanes Shifting Shapes - Close to Reality?


Plastic is everywhere and in the nearest future it may even float through our veins. The nature of plastic allows scientists to create a molecule similar to hemoglobin, the cells responsible for carrying oxygen. Plastic blood will provide a lot of advantages - it will be more painless to get, it will be easy to carry and store it.

Although plastic is widely used in aircraft manufacturing, scientists work on the development of plastics that would 'fly' airplanes directly into the science-fiction age. Shape memory polymers shift shape when heated - in future they can be used for producing aircrafts with wings becoming shorter or longer in mid-flight.

If you associate silicon with the computer age, the situation may soon change - circuits are printed right onto plastic chips. The flexible circuitry could be applied for developing foldable displays. Imagine electronic pages that you will be able to put into your pocket, solar panels you will drape over tents, or just everyone wearing electronic clothes.

Ninety percent of plastics are presently produced from oil but nobody knows what may happen with this product in future. The resilience is the plastic's basic characteristic that makes it just indispensable. At at the same time it means the material will continuosly cause the environment pollution.

At present day less than 10 percent of all products produced from plastic are recycled. As estimated by the Worldwatch Institute, an agency engaged in an environmental research, only in the U.S. about 100 billion plastic bags are annually discarded.

Although plastic initially replaced expensive organic materials, bioplastic produced from plants will probably replace materials dangerous for the environment. There already exists the Toyota Motor's I-unit, an electric car almost fully produced from material derived from sugar cane, corn, and the kenaf plant growing in Africa.

Plastics has greatly revolutionized our life during the past 100 years. Who knows what it holds for us in future, besides PVC boots and nylon stockings.

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