A May 24, 2018 news item on Nanowerk announces a technique for making sustainable electrodes (Note: A link has been removed),
Carbon aerogels are ultralight, conductive materials, which are extensively investigated for applications in supercapacitor electrodes in electrical cars and cell phones. Chinese scientists have now found a way to make these electrodes sustainably. The aerogels can be obtained directly from cellulose nanofibrils, the abundant cell-wall material in wood, finds the study reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie (“Wood-Derived Ultrathin Carbon Nanofiber Aerogels”).
Supercapacitors are capacitors that can take up and release a very large amount of energy in a very short time. Key requirements for supercapacitor electrodes are a large surface area and conductivity, combined with a simple production method. Another growing issue in supercapacitor production–mainly for smartphone and electric car technologies–is sustainability. However, sustainable and economical production of carbon aerogels as supercapacitor electrode materials is possible, propose Shu-Hong Yu and colleagues from the University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China.
Carbon aerogels are ultralight conductive materials with a very large surface area. They can be prepared by two production routes: the first and cheapest starts from mostly phenolic components and produces aerogels with improvable conductivity, while the second route is based on graphene- and carbon-nanotube precursors. The latter method delivers high-performance aerogels but is expensive and non-environmentally friendly. In their search for different precursors, Yu and colleagues have found an abundant, far less expensive, and sustainable source: wood pulp.
Well, not really wood pulp, but its major ingredient, nanocellulose. Plant cell walls are stabilized by fibrous nanocellulose, and this extractable material has very recently stimulated substantial research and technological development. It forms a highly porous, but very stable transparent network, and, with the help of a recent technique–oxidation with a radical scavenger called TEMPO–it forms a microporous hydrogel of highly oriented cellulose nanofibrils with a uniform width and length. As organic aerogels are produced from hydrogels by drying and pyrolysis, the authors attempted pyrolysis of supercritically or freeze-dried nanofibrillated cellulose hydrogel.
As it turns out, the method was not as straightforward as expected because ice crystal formation and insufficient dehydration hampered carbonization, according to the authors. Here, a trick helped. The scientists pyrolyzed the dried gel in the presence of the organic acid catalyst para-toluenesulfonic acid. The catalyst lowered the decomposition temperature and yielded a “mechanically stable and porous three-dimensional nanofibrous network” featuring a “large specific surface area and high electrical conductivity,” the authors reported.
The authors also demonstrated that their wood-derived carbon aerogel worked well as a binder-free electrode for supercapacitor applications. The material displayed electrochemical properties comparable to commercial electrodes. The method is an interesting and innovative way in which to fabricate sustainable materials suitable for use in high-performance electronic devices.
This is the first time I’ve seen work on wood-based nanocellulose from China. Cellulose according to its Wikipedia entry is: ” … the most abundant organic polymer on Earth.” For example, there’s more cellulose in cotton than there is wood. So, I find it interesting that in a country not known for its forests, nanocellulose (in this project anyway) is being derived from wood.
Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,
Wood‐Derived Ultrathin Carbon Nanofiber Aerogels by Si‐Cheng Li, Bi‐Cheng Hu, Dr. Yan‐Wei Ding, Prof. Hai‐Wei Liang, Chao Li, Dr. Zi‐You Yu, Dr. Zhen‐Yu Wu, Prof. Wen‐Shuai Chen, Prof. Shu‐Hong Yu. Angewandt Chemie First published: 23 April 2018 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.201802753
Nanofibre magic turns fish skins into wrinkle busting skin care
Sanford partners with kiwi nanotech experts to help develop a wrinkle-busting skincare product made from Hoki skins.
New Zealand’s biggest and oldest seafood company is moving into the future of skincare and medicine by becoming supporting partner to West Auckland nanofibre producer Revolution Fibres, which is launching a potentially game-changing nanotech face mask.
The actiVLayr face masks use collagen extracted from fish skins as a base ingredient which is then combined with elements such as fruit extracts and hyaluronic acid to make a 100 percent natural and sustainably sourced product.
They have achieved stunning results in third party tests which show that the nanofiber masks can reduce wrinkles by up to 31.5%.*
Revolution Fibres CEO Iain Hosie says it is no exaggeration to say the masks could be revolutionary.
“The wayactiVLayr is produced, and the unique application method of placing it onto wet skin like a mask, means ingredients are absorbed quickly and efficiently into the skin to maximise the repair and protection of the skin.”
Sanford is delighted to support the work that Revolution Fibres is doing by supplying hoki fish skins. Hoki is a sustainably caught fish and its skin has some unique properties.
Sanford’s General Manager of Innovation, Andrew Stanley, says these properties make it ideal for the actiVLayr technology. “Hoki skins are rich in collagen, which is an essential part of our bodies. But their marine collagen is unique – it has a very low melt point, so when placed on the skin, it can dissolve completely and be absorbed in a way that collagen f rom other animals cannot.”
Sanford’s Chief Customer Officer, Andre Gargiulo, says working with the team at Revolution Fibres is a natural fit, because both company’s think about innovation and sustainability in the same way.
“We hope actiVLayr gets the global attention it deserves, and we’re delighted that our sustainably caught Hoki is part of this fantastic New Zealand product. It’s exactly what we’re all about at Sanford – making the most of the precious resources from the sea, working in a sustainable way and getting the most value out of the goodness we harvest from nature.”
Sanford’s Business Development Manager Adrian Grey says the focus on sustainability and value creation are so important for the seafood company.
“Previously we have been making use of these hoki skins, which is great, but they were being used only for fish meal or pet food products. Being able to supply and support a high tech company that is going to earn increased export revenue for New Zealand is just fantastic. And the product created is completely natural, harvested from a globally certified sustainable fishery.”
Sanford provides the hoki skins and then turns these skins into pure collagen using the science and skills of the team at Plant and Food in Nelson [New Zealand for those of us who associate Nelson with British Columbia]. Revolution Fibres transforms the Sanford product into nanofibre using a technique called electrospinning of which Revolution Fibres are the New Zealand pioneers.
During the electrospinning process natural ingredients known as “bioactives” (such as kiwifruit and grapes) and hyaluronic acid (an ingredient to help the skin retain moisture) are bonded to the nanofibres to create sheets of actiVLayr. When it is exposed to wet skin the nanofibres dissolve rapidly and release the bioactives deep into the skin.
The product is being launched at the China Beauty Fair in Shanghai on May 22  and will go on sale in China this month followed by Hong Kong and New Zealand later in the year. Revolution Fibres CEO Iain Hosie says there is big demand for unique delivery systems of natural skin and beauty products such as actiVLayr in Asia, which was the key reason to launch the product in China. But his view of the future is even bigger.
“There are endless uses for actiVLayr and the one we’re most proud of is in the medical area with the ability for drug compounds or medicines to be added to the actiVLayr formula. It will enable a controlled dose to be delivered to a patient with skin lesions, burns or acne.”
Revolution Fibres is presenting at Techweek NZ as part of The Fourth Revolution event on May 25  in Christchurch which introduces high tech engineers who are building a better place.
*Testing conducted by Easy Care using VISIA Complexion Analysis
The media advisory also includes some ‘fascinating ‘facts’,
1kg of hoki skin produces 400 square meters of nanofibre material
Nanofibres are 1/500th the width of a human hair
Revolution Fibres is the only nanofibre producer in the world to meet aerospace industry standards with its AS9100d quality assurance certification
The marine collagen found in hoki skins is unique because of its relatively low melt point, meaning it can dissolve at a lower temperature which makes it perfect for human use
Revolution Fibres is based in West Auckland and employs 12 people, of which 4 have P hDs in science related to nanotechnology. There are also a number of employees with strong engineering backgrounds to complement the company’s Research & Development expertise
Sanford is New Zealand’s oldest and biggest seafood company. It was founded by Albert Sanford in Auckland in 1904
New Zealand’s hoki fishery is certified as sustainable by the London-based Marine Stewardship Council, which audits fisheries all over the world
For some perspective on the business side of things, there’s a May 21, 2018 article by Nikki Mandow for newsroom.co.nz,
Revolution Fibres first started talking about the possibility of a collagen nanofibre made from hoki almost a decade ago, as part of a project with Plant & Food’s Seafood Research Centre in Nelson, Hosie [Revolution Fibres CEO Iain Hosie] said, and the company got serious about making a product in 2013.
Previously, the hoki waste skins were used for fish meal and pet food, said Sanford business development manager Adrian Grey.
“Being able to supply and support a high tech company that is going to earn increased export revenue for New Zealand is just fantastic.”
Revolution Fibres also manufactures nanofibres for a number of other uses. These include anti-dust mite pillow coverings, anti-pollution protective face masks, filters for pumps for HRV’s home ventilation systems, and reinforcing material for carbon fibre for fishing rods. The latter product is made from recycled fishing nets collected from South America.
He [Revolution Fibres CEO Iain Hosie] said the company could be profitable, but instead has chosen to continue to invest heavily in research and development.
About 75 percent of revenue comes from selling proprietary products, but increasingly Hosie said the company is working on “co-innovation” projects, where Revolution Fibres manufactures bespoke materials for outside companies.
Revolution Fibres completed its first external funding round last year, raising $1.5 million from the US, and it has just completed another round worth approximately $1million. Hosie, one of the founders, still holds around 20 percent of the company.
He said he hopes to keep the intellectual property in New Zealand, although manufacturing of some products is likely to move closer to their markets – China and the US potentially. However, he said actiVLayr manufacture will remain in New Zealand, because that’s where the raw hoki comes from.
I wonder if we’ll see this product in Canada.
One other thing, I was curious about this ” … the nanofiber masks can reduce wrinkles by up to 31.5%” and Visia Complexion Analysis, which is a product from Canfield Scientific, a company specializing in imaging. Here’s some of what Visia can do (from the Visia product page),
VISIA’s patented comparison to norms analysis uses the world’s largest skin feature database to grade your patient’s skin relative to others of the same age and skin type. Measure spots, wrinkles, texture, pores, UV spots, brown spots, red areas, and porphyrins.
Compare results side by side for any combination of views, features or time points, including graphs and numerical data. Zoom and pan images in tandem for clear and easy comparisons.
And, there’s my personal favourite (although it has nothing to do with the topic of this posting0,
Evaluates the results of lash improvement treatments with numerical assessments and graphic visualizations.
For anyone who wondered about why the press release has both ‘nanofibre’ and ‘nanofiber’, It’s the difference between US and UK spelling. Perhaps the complexion analysis information came from a US company or one that uses US spellings.
Here’s the description of the project (from the EnduroShield website),
Prominent gin-makers Bombay Sapphire commissioned the creation of the company’s first in-house production facility at an old Victorian paper mill in Laverstoke, Hampshire, on a 20,000sqm rural property along the southern coast of England. The abandoned 18th century paper mill’s original brick buildings were converted into the distillery, while a pair of phenomenal curved glass greenhouses were added to house the 10 tropical and Mediterranean botanicals used to create the world famous gin.
Throughout the renovation process, Bombay Sapphire and architects Heatherwick Studio were dedicated to creating a sustainable and efficient distillery which upheld the heritage of the site. In recognition of this, the gin distillery was awarded the highly prestigious BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) Award for Industrial Design.
The state-of-the-art facility has been recognised as the first distillery and first refurbishment to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ design-stage BREEAM accreditation. The centrepiece of the award winning distillery is the amazing greenhouse designed by Thomas Hetherwick. It is made up of two glasshouses which extend from the distillery, using recycled air from the distillation process to maintain a warm climate within. The glasshouses also take full advantage of advances in glass technology, one of which is EnduroShield’s easy clean nanotechnology. The EnduroShield coated glass utilised in this remarkable structure is synonymous with the development’s eco strategy; not only does EnduroShield protect the glass form staining and etching but also helps to reduce environmental and monetary costs from ongoing maintenance.
Here’s more about the glass (from the EnduroShield website),
EnduroShield easy clean surface treatment for glass was applied onto the swooping glasshouse structures so that water and contaminants bead right off, reducing cleaning time and frequency. EnduroShield chemically bonds to the glass substrate, transforming it into a high performance hydrophobic surface which will protect against staining, and reduce the effort and regularity of maintenance.
The spectacular Bombay Sapphire Distillery project, with its strong environmental focus, is at the forefront of eco-conscious architecture. Bombay Sapphire have also commented that the sustainability measures taken during the design and construction process have fundamental financial sense, increasing efficiency with ongoing savings in operational energy and water costs well into the future.
Nanotechnology is mentioned, although not in any detail,
EnduroShield is the smart choice for exterior glass surfaces, providing a permanent*, ultra-thin, transparent coating that completely adheres to the glass surface. The coating provides a reduction of both the frequency and the time spent cleaning.
Developed with cutting edge nanotechnology, the coating is applied by many of the world’s leading glass companies and is an official partner to Lisec Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of high-tech production lines for the glass industry. [emphasis mine]
*Independently tested and certified by TÜV Rheinland, Germany for durability to simulate a lifetime of 10 years on interior and exterior use.
The lettuce we eat was cultivated from prickly lettuce, which is now considered a weed. That status may change if scientists at Washington State University (WSU) are successful with their research into the plant’s ability to produce rubber. From an April 6, 2014 WSU news release by Sylvia Kantor (also on EurekAlert),
Prickly lettuce, a common weed that has long vexed farmers, has potential as a new cash crop providing raw material for rubber production, according to Washington State University scientists.
Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they describe regions in the plant’s genetic code linked to rubber production. The findings open the way for breeding for desired traits and developing a new crop source for rubber in the Pacific Northwest.
“I think there’s interest in developing a temperate-climate source of natural rubber,” said Ian Burke, a weed scientist at WSU and a study author. “It would be really great if prickly lettuce could become one of those crops.”
Here’s what prickly lettuce looks like,
Prickly lettuce, the wild relative of cultivated lettuce, is a potential source for the production of natural rubber. (Photo by Flickr user Jim Kennedy)
Here’s a close-up of a prickly lettuce stem with sap,
The milky sap, or latex, of the plant could be used to produce rubber. (Photo by Jared Bell, WSU)
Getting back to the prickly lettuce news release,
When the lettuce we eat and grow in our gardens bolts, a milky white sap bleeds from the stem. In prickly lettuce, the wild relative and ancestor of cultivated lettuce, this same substance could prove to be an economically viable source of natural rubber and help alleviate a worldwide threat to rubber production.
Natural rubber is the main ingredient for many everyday products, from boots to condoms to surgical gloves. Roughly 70 percent of the global supply of rubber is used in tires.
But more than half of rubber products are made from synthetic rubber derived from petrochemical sources. And the largest source of natural rubber, the Brazilian rubber tree, is threatened by disease.
Burke has reviewed many studies of prickly lettuce and its cultivated cousins, but one in particular gave him an idea. A study published in 2006 found that the latex in prickly lettuce was very similar to the polymers found in natural rubber.
“It occurred to me that we could grow the heck out of prickly lettuce in eastern Washington,” he said.
Genetic markers for desired traits
He knew that to develop a viable new crop for rubber production, he had to start by understanding the genetics of rubber production in the plant.
Burke, doctoral student Jared Bell and molecular plant scientist Michael Neff began their studies with two distinct samples of prickly lettuce collected from eastern Washington. These differed in their rubber content, leaf shape and tendency to bolt. The scientists were able to identify genetic markers not only for rubber content but for the way the plants grow, including the number of stems produced and bolting.
Sought-after traits in cultivated lettuce – like abundant leaves, a single stem and delayed bolting – are the exact opposite of traits desired for rubber production. Early bolting plants with multiple stems would allow for multiple harvests over the season and potentially maximize rubber yields.
Burke said that selecting for other traits, like water use efficiency, could allow prickly lettuce to be grown with minimal rainfall, meaning it could be grown in rotation with other crops.
The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), along with partners In2Tec Ltd (UK) and Gwent Electronic Materials Ltd, have developed a printed circuit board (PCB) whose components can be easily separated by immersion in hot water. …
The electronics industry has a waste problem – currently over 100 million electronic units are discarded annually in the UK alone, making it one of the fastest growing waste streams.
It was estimated in a DTI [Dept. of Trade and Industry]-funded report, that around 85% of all PCB scrap board waste goes to landfill. Around 70% of this being of non-metallic content with little opportunity for recycling. This amounts to around 1 million tonnes in the UK annually equivalent to 81 x HMS Belfasts [ships]
This revolutionary materials technology allows a staggering 90% of the original structure to be re-used. For comparison, less than 2% of traditional PCB material can be re-used. The developed technology lends itself readily to rigid, flexible and 3D structures, which will enable the electronics industry to pursue new design philosophies – with the emphasis on using less materials and improving sustainability.
Here’s a video demonstrating the technology, from the ReUSE project news page,
I had to look at this twice to confirm what I was seeing. (I worked for a company that manufactured circuit boards for its products and the idea of immersing one of those in hot water is pretty shocking to me [pun intended].)
Nanotechnology has a window of opportunity to aid in the sustainability of the planet. A group of scientists and engineers has recognized this remarkable chance to raise up a sustainable industry while helping sustain the environment, economy and society. The Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization (SNO) promotes research, education, and responsibility to fulfill its mission.
The first meeting, November 4-6, 2012, in Washington DC features plenaries by Nobelist Sir Harry Kroto and National Nanotechnology Initiative founding father, Mihail (Mike) Roco and over 100 individual presentations.
Here’s more about the Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization, from the home page,
The Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization (SNO) is a non-profit, worldwide professional society comprised of individuals and institutions that are engaged in:
Research and development of sustainable nanotechnology
Implications of nanotechnology for Environment, Health, and Safety
Advances in nanoscience, methods, protocols and metrology
Education and understanding of sustainable nanotechnology
Applications of nanotechnology for sustainability
SNO’s purpose is to provide a professional society forum to advance knowledge in all aspects of sustainable nanotechnology, including both applications and implications.
I find Roco’s involvement in the Nov. 2012 meeting interesting in light of some comments Dexter Johnson made in his June 8, 2 012 posting on Nanoclast (on the IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers]) about Roco’s current campaign to encourage international nanotechnology research cooperation (Note: I have removed links from the excerpt),
Roco was the man behind turning a scattering of papers in condensed matter/solid state physics or chemistry into a national initiative. In doing so, he unwittingly—or not—launched an international nanotechnology arms race, which has seen at least 35 countries jump on to the bandwagon since the NNI was started.
Make no mistake, this “race” is no joke. There are billions of dollars at stake and national reputations seem to be built up on success in crossing the vague finish line before some other country.
So after unleashing this billion-dollar nanotech arms race, Roco now is urging collaboration in nanotech to provide the push the field needs to progress.
Well, yes, of course, and it’s about time somebody said it. It probably couldn’t have come from a better source either.
Dexter provides some good insight into the impact Roco has had on nanotechnology research in the US and internationally and, personally, I find these new developments quite fascinating.
I first wrote about the TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Research Centre (a joint India-Australia partnership) in my Nov. 30, 2010 posting when the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was first signed. According to the Feb. 24, 2012 news item on Nanowerk, the centre has recently opened,
Speaking at the inauguration of the new lab facilities, Hon’ble Louise Asher, MP and Minister for Innovation, Services & Small business, Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Australia said, “This outstanding facility is the result of a dynamic partnership between The Energy and Resources Institute of India (TERI) and Victoria’s [Australia] own Deakin University to augment research in the area of Nano Biotechnology, which will enable efficiency, effectiveness and provide solutions for a sustainable future.”
Highlighting the importance of TERI-DEAKIN partnership, Dr RK Pachauri, Director-General, TERI said, “Research at TERI seeks to find solutions to problems related to attaining sustainability and environmental degradation and has made a difference to the lives of many people. The organization’s commitment to these areas is a continuous process, and setting up the TERI-Deakin Nano Biotechnology Research Centre is one of the means through which, TERI plans to create capacity and expertise for technological solutions to problems of inefficient use of natural resources.”
Professor Jane den Hollander, Vice Chancellor, Deakin University said that the centre provided a hub for up to 50 PhD students who are undertaking research under the Deakin India Research Initiative (DIRI).
“What is particularly pleasing about this centre is that it is tackling research into global issues such as food security for a growing world population, sustainable agricultural practices and environmental sustainability,” she said.
The new facility opened in Gual Pahari, Gurgaon, approximately 35 mins. away (by car) from New Delhi, India (according to Feb. 24, 2012 article in the Asian Scientist about the new TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Research Centre).