Rain boots from chewing gum? We’ll show you how. A portable LED device purifies water and sterilizes medical equipment. And a voice analysis tool that may help doctors diagnose a deadly disease. This is your Engineering360 news brief.
Pink Wellies from Waste Gum
That next pair of bubble-gum pink Wellingtons you buy may be made from old chewing gum. London-based custom compounder Teknor Apex has teamed with waste gum recycler Gumdrop Liomited to convert discarded gum into a raw material for commercial-grade thermoplastic elastomers to make rain boots, smartphone covers, and other products.
Gumdrop was founded in 2009 by 32-year-old product designer Anna Bullus, and claims to be the first company in the world established specifically to collect, process, and recycle waste chewing gum. The gum is collected largely from the gum industry and consumer sources, thus diverting it from landfills and the undersides of desks and chairs. The challenge was to devise formulation and manufacturing techniques for a new type of raw material to produce commercial-scale quantities of compounds that consistently meet the requirements of specific applications. Those specs include optimized elasticity, compression set, tensile, and other mechanical properties. The TPE compounds the company formulated comprise up to 30% chewing gum waste.
LEDs for Portable Clean Water Kits
Lightweight, flexible metal foil-based light-emitting diodes are being developed at Ohio State University for portable ultraviolet lights that soldiers and others can use to purify drinking water and sterilize medical equipment. So-called deep UV light is already in use for applications ranging from detection of biological agents to curing plastics. These conventional deep-UV lamps are too heavy to carry around, and the devices are also relatively inefficient and pose safety concerns from the use of mercury lamps. The foil-based nanotechnology approach from OSU could support large-scale production of a lighter, cheaper and more environmentally friendly deep-UV LED.
Listening for Signs of CAD
Voice analysis technology developed by Israel-based Beyond Verbal can be used to identify the presence of coronary artery disease by establishing a strong correlation between certain voice characteristics and the disease. Results of a study conducted at the Mayo Clinic show that voice can be used as a biomarker for the heart disease, with certain sound characteristics pointing to the existence of the disease. The study included 120 patients. Researchers found that one voice feature was associated with a 19-fold increased likelihood of coronary artery disease. The strongest association between voice and coronary artery disease was observed when patients were requested to record their voice while describing a negative experience. Beyond Verbal has already found voice signal characteristics that can be associated with various conditions such as autism and Parkinson’s.
Electronics360 has a video that will show you how a robot keeps its balance by using buoyancy balloons. And Engineering360 offers up a guide to choosing between copper and fiber for industrial networks. These stories plus product guides, newsletters and more can be found at the Engineering360 and Electronics360 web sites. For the Engineering360 news brief, I’m Rich Northrup.