Citizens' Issues
Eco-friendly plastic substitute could reduce dependency on fossil fuels: Indian scientists
The eco-friendly substance, developed from seaweed extracts, has the potential to substitute plastic in applications like packaging material and ropes and thereby reduce dependency on fossil fuels for production of plastic products, the scientists say
 
Indian scientists have created an environmentally-friendly material from renewable natural marine resources that could eventually replace the fossil fuel-derived plastics commonly used in a variety of applications.
 
The eco-friendly substance, developed from seaweed extracts, has the potential to substitute plastic in applications like packaging material and ropes and thereby reduce dependency on fossil fuels for production of plastic products, the scientists say.
 
"The building blocks of plastics and synthetics, we use every day are mostly derived from fossil oils or crude oils," Pushpito Ghosh, a professor of chemical engineering at Mumbai's Institute of Chemical Technology, told IANS on the phone.
 
"Using materials derived from renewable natural sources such as seaweeds on a large scale, could help reduce dependency on finite fossil fuel reserves," said the former director of the CSIR-Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute and one of the study authors.
 
He was the director when the research began.
 
The researchers used extracts of three seaweed species cultivated in India and treated it with a common industrial chemical called vinyl acetate to make it water repellent.
 
The intention was to fabricate ropes from this partly-synthetic and partly-natural substance and replace the nylon ropes used in seaweed farming in marine waters.
 
But there is more to the achievement than just biodegradable ropes.
 
"It could replace plastic in many ways, such as in packaging material, ropes for drying clothes, bag handles and other home decor items when produced on a large scale," Ramavatar Meena, a senior scientist at the institute, told IANS on the phone.
 
Seaweeds, which are marine plants, are known as super foods for their high nutrient content.
 
A source of industrially important gums and gelling or thickening agents, they grow naturally along the coast of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
 
"The rope made from seaweed extracts lasted over 45 days in the field and over six months in sea water under laboratory conditions. On the other hand, it degraded on being buryied in the soil," Meena said.
 
Although the vinyl acetate constituent of the novel material is biodegradable to a certain extent, Ghosh said the next challenge is to ramp up the level of natural content (seaweed extracts) and further improve its properties.
 
Making the raw material cost-effective is another important target of the team, he said.
 
"Plastic is produced on a massive scale. To be competent, we are looking at ways to cultivate the seaweed on a grander scale," Ghosh added.
 
The study is published online in RSC Advances journal. The other members of the team are J.P. Chaudhary, Dharmesh Chejara and K. Eswaran.

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BSNL, MTNL merger decision in 4-5 months
The decision on merging state-run BSNL and MTNL will be taken in the next four-five months, Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg said on Friday.
 
"BSNL, MTNL merger decision will be taken in four-five months after studying the IIM report on it," he said.
 
Anupam Shrivastava, BSNL chairman-cum-managing director, said MTNL will be delisted before the merger. MTNL stocks rallied 20 percent intra-day. The stocks were trading 14.46 percent up at 2.11 p.m. in the Bombay Stock Exchange.
 
MTNL, however, said there is no delisting proposal under consideration of the board.
 
Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had earlier said BSNL and MTNL's debt stood at Rs.4,459 crore and Rs.14,120 crore, respectively.
 
The department of telecommunication in September 2014 had set a deadline of July 31, 2015 for closing the merger of MTNL and BSNL. MTNL operates in Delhi and Mumbai while BSNL offers telecom services in the rest of the country. BSNL with 61,622 mobile towers has the second largest tower portfolio among all the telecom service operators.

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The male diet is under threat from zombie steaks (The Funny Side)
Riki's theory is that food is now so full of chemicals - especially in China, where the beef video came from - that you cannot kill it. It is 'Undead' 
 
This is "The Guy Way" to prepare a healthy, raw vegetable dinner. 1) Take raw vegetables from fridge. 2) Throw them in the bin. 3) Go out for a steak.
 
But be warned: some of the guy-est guy foods are in danger. Meats are going through "the zombie barrier" according to a reader who asks only to be identified as Riki. He showed me the viral video circulating in the past few days showing a piece of raw beef throbbing and pulsating - despite being on a kitchen counter, ready for the pan.
 
It was linked to another viral video showing a beheaded cuttlefish rising from a seafood salad and dancing, despite not having a brain. (In this sense, cuttlefish are like human males, who also only dance when they have used a powerful chemical - Carlsberg Special Brew - to cause temporary lobotomies, a Latin-derived medical term meaning "surgical removal of the part of the head that prevents men behaving like bottoms").
 
Riki's theory is that food is now so full of chemicals - especially in China, where the beef video came from - that you cannot kill it. It is "Undead". You can tear it to shreds but it will keep creeping back to life with terrifying relentlessness, a bit like Britney Spears' career.
 
The video of the throbbing beef, filmed by "Mrs Cheng of Shandong" and spread by China's CCTV, was fake, said a butcher quoted by Channel 9 news of Australia. He's wrong.
 
In the interests of science, this columnist bought a zombie steak from a nearby wet market (it looked dead at first, but the butcher hit it with the back of his chopper to make it start pulsating), and it WAS pretty upsetting. "Shh! It's okay. I'm not going to hurt you," I found myself lying to the plastic bag.
 
By the time I got home, it had stopped moving, and I wasn't sure whether to mince it for burgers or organize a funeral with a choir and a selection of tasteful inter-faith readings.
 
Becoming a vegetarian may not be a complete answer. A reader who is a passionate vegan ("emotional person behaving as if she comes from the planet Vega") forwarded a recent article from Britain about farm vegetables showing curious behavior, with some "singing" audibly. Cauliflowers are creaking and squeaking, while rhubarb is making a fizzing, popping noise. Scientists say it might be related to climate change.
 
She shared with me her puzzlement over how to be kind to vegetables. "If you cook vegetables before you eat them, you're boiling them alive - but if you consume them raw, you're eating them alive," she said. "Which is worse?" I left her apologizing to a head of lettuce as she viciously tore off its leaves.
 
The only possible answer is to drop both meats and plants. That leaves us with an all-salt diet, which could get kind of boring after the first 30 seconds or so.
 
I opted for pasta. Here's a useful note on "The Guy Way of Estimating The Right Amount of Pasta to Cook." 1) Guess the right amount of pasta to put into boiling water. 2) Wait for it to cook. 3) You were wrong.
 
Bon appétit!

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COMMENTS

Bapoo Malcolm

2 years ago

Guess it is wrong to chop off a living thing. Also terrible to breed and look after something till it grows and is big enough to eat. It's like eating your own child after planting the seed and waiting for it to grow. Also shameful to attack a living thing that cannot run away and protect itself; nor can it cry for help being totally friendless and helpless.

I feel so guilty that I am giving up vegetables. And fruits. And pulses. And legumes.

And become non-hypocritical.

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