Facing environmentalists’ ire, fast-food franchises switched from polystyrene burger boxes to cardboard several years back. Now diners gripe about cold food. U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers are cooking up a solution to make everyone happy: cheap, biodegradable containers derived from a source consumers are more familiar with from buns-wheat. Chemists at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Albany, CA, made a foam from the starch inside wheat kernels and mixed it with fibers from wheat stalks to add strength. Boxes made from this foam are as strong as polystyrene containers and insulate far better than cardboard. They’re also cheaper than the eco-friendly alternatives now in use-including a similar material made from potato starch. The researchers are close to solving the boxes’ main weakness: a tendency to soften when wet. Several companies have expressed interest in the new material; your burger could come in a wheat-based box in two or three years.
The big new idea for making self-driving cars that can go anywhere
The mainstream approach to driverless cars is slow and difficult. These startups think going all-in on AI will get there faster.
Inside Charm Industrial’s big bet on corn stalks for carbon removal
The startup used plant matter and bio-oil to sequester thousands of tons of carbon. The question now is how reliable, scalable, and economical this approach will prove.
The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it
Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.
The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images
Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.
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