A hand holds a round disc of noodles wrapped in a translucent film with herb specs embedded in it.

Reimagined Ramen Comes In Edible Package

Hackers and college students alike reach for ramen when they want to fuel up on a budget, but, if you’re concerned about packaging waste, the plastic film and foil packets start to weigh on your conscience. [Holly Grounds] was sick of this compromise and came up with a way to have your packaging and eat it too.

[Holly] first experimented with different bioplastics until she developed a recipe for “an edible, tasteless starch-based bioplastic, that dissolves in contact with boiling water.” With that accomplished, she next integrated flavoring into the bioplastic wrapper so that there’s no foil packet. She found that herbs and spices worked, but larger solids like shrimp couldn’t be incorporated into the film.

For the finishing touch, she fashioned the noodles into a disk so they fit better in a bowl for cooking. To cook the noodles, you remove a puck from the wax paper sleeve holding multiple servings, add boiling water, stir, and enjoy. [Holly] says that her ramen packets are quicker to prepare than existing packets since there are fewer steps and the shape is optimized for cooking. That’s a win-win for the planet and convenience.

If you want to see another pasta packaging marvel, we’ve previously covered Flat Pack Pasta. Have your own project to reduce packaging waste? Submit it to the Save the World Wildcard round of the Hackaday Prize which closes on October 16th!

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Hackaday Links: April 3, 2022

It’s that time of year again — the 2022 Hackaday Prize has officially launched, and we’re excited to see what it turns out. This year’s theme is “Sustainability, Resilience, and Circularity,” and just in time, too; if the last couple of years has taught us anything, it’s that we’ve got a lot of failure points built into the systems that run our world. As broken as things are, it’s tempting to just curl up in a ball and pretend everything’s fine, but that’s not how hackers respond to adversity. We need to control what we can control, and there’s plenty of work to be done. From sustainable energy ideas to ways to reduce the amount of stuff we throw away, from breathing new life into old equipment to building communities that can take care of themselves, there’s plenty of work to be done. So get over to the Hackaday Prize page, check out the launch summit video if you need some inspiration, and get hacking. And hurry up — things are only going to get better if people like us make it happen.

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Floating Solar Farms Are Taking The World’s Reservoirs By Storm

Photovoltaic solar panels are wonderful things, capable of capturing mere light and turning it into useful electricity. They’re often installed on residential and commercial rooftops for offsetting energy use at the source.

However, for grid-scale generation, they’re usually deployed in huge farms on tracts of land in areas that receive plenty of direct sunlight. These requirements can often put solar farms in conflict with farm-farms — the sunlight that is good for solar panels is also good for growing plants, specifically those we grow for food.

One of the more interesting ideas, however, is to create solar arrays that float on water. Unlike some of the wackier ideas out there, this one comes with some genuinely interesting engineering benefits, too!

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If Society Is In Danger Of Collapse, Here’s How We Should Do Our Bit

If you’ve been following the news, you can’t have missed the series of floods, droughts, and wildfires that have occurred seemingly in all corners of the world. Coming on the heels of a Northern Hemisphere winter that had its own extreme weather events, it would be perhaps foolhardy not to by now take climate change seriously. You may also have seen the news about a return to a 1970s paper in which MIT crystal-ball-gazers predicted the collapse of our civilisation in the mid-21st century, and a review based upon the empirical data gathered since then which concluded that we could be right on track with that prediction set to happen in about 2040.

It’s sobering stuff, and something which could so easily form the basis of many a Hollywood apocalyptic disaster movie. But sitting here in 2021 amid extreme weather events and a global pandemic it’s certainly something to think about. It’s not as though we’re riding biogas-powered weapon cars through the post-apocalyptic desert just yet though, we still have a chance to do something to avert catastrophe and no doubt over the next decade a raft of changes will reduce our CO2 impact and make our infrastructure more resilient to stave off any coming crises.

Our mind was turned to the halcyon time before the pandemic, to the Danish BornHack hacker camp back in August 2019. One of the talks at the event came from [Igor Nicolic], whose day job as an academic with Delft University of Technology takes him into the study of ecology and sustainability. In it he looks at the current state of global sustainability, and identifies the roles which the hardware hacker community could play in an uncertain future. It’s a fascinating lecture from an expert in the field and it’s well worth a watch and taking note of his points, so we’ve placed it below the break. Continue reading “If Society Is In Danger Of Collapse, Here’s How We Should Do Our Bit”

Ford And HP Teamed Up To Drive Down Plastic Waste

This mass manufacturer movement towards electric cars is one thing, but what about sustainability on the plastic part production line? Ford and HP have teamed up to turn used 3D printed parts and powders into pellets that will be fodder for injection-molded parts — specifically the fuel-line clips for Super Duty F250 trucks.

Two of the sustainably-made fuel clips.

According to Ford’s press release, their goal is to reach 100% sustainable materials in all their vehicles, not just the diesel-drinking Super Duty. Their research team found ten other Fords whose existing fuel-line clips could instead be made sustainably, and the company plans to implement the recycled plastic clips on all future models.

There are all sorts of positives at play here: the recycled clips cost 10% less to make and end up weighing 7% less than traditionally-made clips, all the while managing to be more chemical and moisture resistant.

And so much plastic will be kept out of landfills, especially once this idea takes off and more manufacturers get involved with HP or form other partnerships. One of the sources of Ford’s plastic is Smile Direct Club, which has 60 printers cranking out over 40,000 dental aligners every day.

There’s more than one way to combine 3D printing and sustainability. Did someone say fungal sound absorbers?

[Images via Ford]

There’s A Fungus Among Us That Absorbs Sound And Does Much More

Ding dong, the office is dead — at least we hope it is. We miss some of the people, the popcorn machine, and the printer most of all, but we say good riddance to the collective noise. Thankfully, we never had to suffer in an open office.

For many of us, yours truly included, home has become the place where we spend approximately 95% of our time. Home is now an all-purpose space for work, play, and everything in between, like anxiety-induced online shopping. But unless you live alone in a secluded area and/or a concrete bunker, there are plenty of sound-based distractions all day and night that emanate from both inside and outside the house. Headphones are a decent solution, but wearing them isn’t always practical and gets old after a while. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to print your own customized sound absorbers and stick them on the walls? Continue reading “There’s A Fungus Among Us That Absorbs Sound And Does Much More”

Weird Substances: Hagfish Slime

In the cold, dark recesses of ocean floors around the world, hagfish slither around like sea snakes, searching for food. When a hagfish finds a suitable carcass, it devours the dead fish in two different ways. As it burrows face-first through the tissue, eating with its jaw-less, tentacled mouth, the hagfish also absorbs nutrients through its skin.

Hagfish are not the unholy result of dumping toxic waste in the ocean. They’re one of the oldest creatures on Earth, having been around for more than 300 million years. How have they lasted this long?

A coiled hagfish reveals its slime ports. Image via Oregon Coast Aquarium

These ancient creatures have no eyes, no backbones, and no scales. They are often misidentified as eel, and often called ‘slime eels’, but they are definitely fish. They just don’t look like conventional fish. In fact, when conventional, gill-faced fish come after hagfish, those guys are in for a surprise, because hagfish have a disgusting but ingenious defense mechanism.

Whenever hagfish are attacked or even just stressed by nearby fish or curious grabby humans, they immediately emit amazing amounts of mucus at an alarming rate. At the same time, the hagfish shoots out silky strands of protein that hold the slime together in a cohesive blob. Any predator that tries to bite down on one of these velvety frankfurters of the deep sea will find its mouth and gills covered in a wad of suffocating slime.

How is it that hagfish haven’t slimed themselves out of existence? Whenever they get get a taste of their own medicine, these boneless noodles quickly twist themselves into a pretzel. In the same motion, they use their paddle-shaped tails to squeegee off the slime.

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