Oil prices high - No more plastic?

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 10:51
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Yep - Oil prices are high again - predictions are that it'll be well over $2 or even $3 per litre in the near future – that’s bad news.

I guess eventually the oil company's will pull out all the magic ideas they've been buying off inventors for years and find a way to charge us for them. Mankind will find a way to get from A to B without oil - most likely giving the economy a severe battering in the process.

But what other products (other than fuel for vehicles) does oil allow us? Among other things - PLASTIC! - What happens when the oil runs out - how do we replace plastic - look around you - so much is now made from plastic. The world has become so reliant on plastic that living without it now could be much more painful than living without fuel for vehicles.

Does anyone know of a renewable replacement for plastic?
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Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 11:07

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 11:07
Probably able to reproduce this with other chemicals but I'm hoping its aluminium myself. The price of some plastic moulding suggests they are being made out gold anyway so nicely pressed alumium mouldings would appeal to me.

Kind regards
AnswerID: 167764

Reply By: robak (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 11:29

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 11:29
Many medicines are made from oil.

Oil will not run out as such. It'll be too expensive to extract to use as a fuel but not for other items like medicines.

AnswerID: 167768

Reply By: Member - Omaroo (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 11:48

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 11:48
From: Site Link

All is not lost... :)

"Substituting for the petroleum used in plastics, however, is a relatively new science. To make conventional plastics, oil must be broken down into constituent monomers, which are then reconstituted into polymer chains (plastics). Scientists have now mimicked this process with corn starches, creating a new polymer called polylactic acid (PLA).

Adding pineapple reinforcers

While the idea of plant-based polymers goes all the way back to the 1930s and '40s, significant steps toward the development and production of PLA did not occur until the 1990s. "This is the product of literally decades of research," says Mr. Anastas.

Research continues to make natural plastic more durable and impermeable - necessary to make it competitive.

At Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., chemistry professor Geoffrey Coates and researchers from the school's Consortium on Green Polymers combine soybean-based proteins with natural fibers, like those found in pineapple, to make the plastics stronger.

In Professor Warner's lab in Lowell, Mass., researchers treat corn-based polymers with ultraviolet light. That twists and contorts the polymers, making them stronger and more durable.

The natural plastic can be intentionally broken down with the help of bacteria that turn the complex polymers back into plant material - which can then be reconstituted into natural plastic again.

Purifying and breaking down used petroleum-based plastics is costly. Instead, plastic recycling usually consists of taking a high-end product and producing a low-end one. "I want to be able to take a laptop computer and make another laptop computer, not a speed bump," Warner says. "The dream with our technology is to be able, at low cost, to recover the polymer in its originally useful form."
AnswerID: 167769

Reply By: Macca1 - Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 00:34

Thursday, Apr 20, 2006 at 00:34
Any Idea how many barrels of oil the world uses per day?.

Get ready, 85,000,000 barrels per day. Simple logic would suggest that it will become harder and harder to get out of the ground.

There is concern that with the growth of Asia and China that by 2008 the oil will not be able to be procesed quick enough to supply the world's demands.


AnswerID: 167971

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