Author Archives: Prof. Mike Ashby

Unappreciated materials (6): Straw

straw-thumbnailSome materials catch headlines, are held in awe, but not all.  Some get little respect, despite having changed the world.  They have become commonplace, anonymous, ignored and (particularly if they are cheap) cast aside when no longer wanted.  If they had feelings, they would be hurt. This brief series of blogs is to draw attention to their plight.

Rumpelstiltskin could spin straw into gold.  Materials Scientists can’t do that yet.  But they can do other things with straw.  The value-added may be lower but the business-case has a firmer scientific base.  But first: what is straw?

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Unappreciated materials (5): Vinyl

vinyl-thumbnailSome materials catch headlines, are held in awe, but not all.  Some get little respect, despite having changed the world.  They have become commonplace, anonymous, ignored and (particularly if they are cheap) cast aside when no longer wanted.  If they had feelings, they would be hurt. This brief series of blogs is to draw attention to their plight.

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Unappreciated Materials (4): Clay

clay-carSome materials catch headlines, are held in awe, but not all.  Some get little respect, despite having changed the world.  They have become commonplace, anonymous, ignored and (particularly if they are cheap) cast aside when no longer wanted.  If they had feelings, they would be hurt. This brief series of blogs is to draw attention to their plight.

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Unappreciated materials (3): Paper

paperSome materials catch headlines, are held in awe, but not all.  Some get little respect, despite having changed the world.  They have become commonplace, anonymous, ignored and (particularly if they are cheap) cast aside when no longer wanted.  If they had feelings, they would be hurt. This brief series of blogs is to draw attention to their plight.

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Unappreciated materials (2): Asphalt Concrete

asphaltSome materials catch headlines, are held in awe, but not all.  Some get little respect, despite having changed the world.  They have become commonplace, anonymous, ignored, and (particularly if they are cheap) cast aside when no longer wanted.  If they had feelings, they would be hurt. This brief series of blogs is to draw attention to their plight.

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Unappreciated materials (1): Corrugated iron

corrugated-ironSome materials catch headlines, are held in awe, but not all. Some get little respect despite, in some cases, having changed the world. They have become commonplace, anonymous, ignored and (particularly if they are cheap) cast aside when no longer wanted. If they had feelings, they would be hurt. This blog is the first in a series designed to draw attention to their plight…

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Paper, Plastic, or Jute: what’s best for shopping bags?

carrier-bagsFew products get a worse press than plastic shopping bags.  They are distributed free, and in vast numbers.  They are made from oil.  They don’t degrade.  They litter the country side, snaring water-birds and choking turtles.  Add your own gripe.

Paper bags are made from natural materials, and they bio-degrade.  Surely it’s better to use paper?  And come to think of it, why not bags made out of jute – it’s a renewable resource – and use them over and over?  That must be the best of all? Continue reading