In our modern world, eliminating plastics is inconceivable. Unfortunately, they do have disadvantages, including the formation of CO2 in both production and combustion, depletion of fossil feedstocks, and growth of landfills. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, Russian researchers introduce a new way forward, a polymer made entirely from biomass that can easily and inexpensively be used in 3D printing. Objects produced in this way are of high quality, easily recyclable, and highly solvent-resistant. Conventional “subtractive” processes involve cutting, sawing, turning, or milling, which results in a great deal of wasted material. In contrast, 3D printing processes are, in principle, waste-free, because they are “additive”: three-dimensional objects are produced in a layer-by-layer application of material. The most common technique is called fused deposition modeling (FDM). In this process, the raw material is squirted through a hot nozzle onto a mobile base and thereby liquefied (extrusion). The printer head produces the programmed form like in a conventional two-dimensional printing process, releasing small amounts of the polymer instead of ink. This is repeated for layer after layer until the desired three-dimensional object is complete. Yet, the polymers used until now have a number of disadvantages that limit their use. Some of the polymers are attacked by organic solvents. Those that withstand the solvents, on the other hand, adhere poorly and shrink on heating, allowing their layers to come apart and causing errors in the printing process. Click Read More below for additional information.
Crude oil prices continued to fall. Performance so far this week has amounted to the steepest two-day decline since late October. Interestingly, the decline doesn’t seem to have followed from API weekly inventory data showing stockpiles added 1.53 million barrels last week. By the time this news came out, the WTI benchmark had settled into a choppy consolidation range after a long day of selling.
As noted yesterday, the OPEC output reduction scheme cobbled together late last year may be losing its ability to impress investors as they consider the degree to which higher prices will lure swing producers back into the market. As if on cue, the EIA upgraded its 2017 US crude output forecast yesterday to 9m b/d from 8.78m projected in December.
Concerns about output cut compliance in Iraq – OPEC’s second-largest producer – are hardly helping matters. Shipping data shows exports are set to increase in February (according to Bloomberg) all while the country’s oil minister says production is being scaled back. The official set of EIA inventory figures is in focus ahead, with an increase of 930k barrels expected by economists.