Israeli Firm Says It Can Turn Garbage Into Bio-Based Plastic

Israeli Firm Says It Can Turn Garbage Into Bio-Based Plastic

Hawks, vultures and storks circle overhead as Christopher Sveen points at the heap of refuse rotting in the desert heat. “This is the mine of the future,” he beams.

Sveen is chief sustainability officer at UBQ, an Israeli company that has patented a process to convert household trash, diverting waste from landfills into reusable bio-based plastic.

After five years of development, the company is bringing its operations online, with hopes of revolutionising waste management and being a driver to make landfills obsolete. It remains to be seen, however, if the technology really works and is commercially viable.

UBQ operates a pilot plant and research facility on the edge of southern Israel’s Negev Desert, where it has developed its production line.

“We take something that is not only not useful, but that creates a lot of damage to our planet, and we’re able to turn it into the things we use every day,” said Albert Douer, UBQ’s executive chairman. He said UBQ’s material can be used as a substitute for conventional petrochemical plastics and wood, reducing oil consumption and deforestation.

UBQ has raised $30 million (roughly Rs. 195 crores) from private investors, including Douer, who is also chief executive of Ajover Darnel Group, an international plastics conglomerate.

Leading experts and scientists serve on its advisory board, including Nobel Prize chemist Roger Kornberg, Hebrew University biochemist Oded Shoseyov, author and entrepreneur John Elkington and Connie Hedegaard, a former European Commissioner for Climate Action.

The small plant can process one ton of municipal waste per hour, a relatively small amount that would not meet the needs of even a midsize city. But UBQ says that given the modularity, it can be quickly expanded.

On a recent day, UBQ Chief Executive Tato Bigio stood alongside bales of sorted trash hauled in from a local landfill.

He said recyclable items like glass, metals and minerals are extracted and sent for further recycling, while the remaining garbage – “banana peels, the chicken bones and the hamburger, the dirty plastics, the dirty cartons, the dirty papers” – is dried and milled into a powder.

The steely gray powder then enters a reaction chamber, where it is broken down and reconstituted as a bio-based plastic-like composite material. UBQ says its closely-guarded patented process produces no greenhouse gas emissions or residual waste byproducts, and uses little energy and no water.

According to the United Nations Environment Program, 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by decomposing organic material in landfills. Roughly half is methane, which over two decades is 86 times as potent for global warming as carbon dioxide, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

For every ton of material produced, UBQ says it prevents between three and 30 tons of CO2 from being created by keeping waste out of landfills and decomposing.

UBQ says its material can be used as an additive to conventional plastics. It says 10-15 percent is enough to make a plastic carbon-neutral by offsetting the generation of methane and carbon dioxide in landfills. It can be moulded into bricks, beams, planters, cans, and construction materials. Unlike most plastics, UBQ says its material doesn’t degrade when it’s recycled.

The company says converting waste into marketable products is profitable, and likely to succeed in the long run without government subsidies.

“What we do is we try to position ourselves at the end of the value chain, or at the end of the waste management hierarchy,” Sveen said. “So rather than that waste going to a landfill or being incinerated, that’s kind of our waste feedstock.”

The wonder plastic isn’t without its sceptics, however. Duane Priddy, chief executive of the Plastic Expert Group, said UBQ’s claims were “too good to be true” and likened it to alchemy.

“Chemists have been trying to convert lead to gold for centuries, without success,” Priddy, a former principal scientist at Dow Chemical, said in an email to The Associated Press. “Likewise, chemists have been trying to convert garbage to plastic for several decades.”

UBQ said it is confident its technology will prove the sceptics wrong. “We understand that’s people’s perceptions. We hope to convince them in a professional and scientific manner,” Sveen said.

Even if its technology is ultimately successful, UBQ faces questions about its long-term viability. Building additional plants could be expensive and time-consuming. It also needs to prove there is a market for its plastic products. The company said it is negotiating deals with major customers, but declined to identify them or say when the contracts would go into effect.

The UN Environment Program has made solid waste disposal a central issue to combatting pollution worldwide. Landfills contaminate air, water and soil, and take up limited land and resources. A December 2017 report by the international body devoted five of its 50 anti-pollution measures to reducing and processing solid waste.

“Every year, an estimated 11.2 billion tons of solid waste are collected worldwide,” the organisation says. “The solution, in the first place, is the minimisation of waste. Where waste cannot be avoided, recovery of materials and energy from waste as well as remanufacturing and recycling waste into usable products should be the second option.”

Israel lags behind other developed countries in waste disposal. The country of roughly 8 million people generated 5.3 million metric tons of garbage in 2016, according to the Environment Ministry. Over 80 percent of that trash ended up in increasingly crowded landfills. A third of Israel’s landfill garbage is food scraps, which decompose and produce greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

To UBQ, that means a nearly limitless supply of raw material.

“The fact is that the majority of waste goes to a landfill or is leaked into our natural environments because there simply aren’t holistic and economically viable technologies out there,” said Sveen.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Cisco says most of 5G network gear’s ready

cisco-reuters

Cisco Systems said on Sunday it aims to disrupt the wireless radio access market led by Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia by backing challengers who make more flexible software versions of traditional mobile gear. Cisco, known for making networking gear that moves big volumes of data around the internet, wants a bigger share of the mobile market by backing these alternative providers rather than by making radio access equipment itself.

Its radio access network push is part of Cisco’s efforts to prove to mobile network operators that investing in modern infrastructure and automation tools can help them to cope with increased data demands, while lowering costs.

The Silicon Valley company made the announcement ahead of this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where hundreds of telecom operators are looking for new ways to deal with exploding customer data demands and intense pricing pressures. Cisco said it is working with more than 20 network operators to offer next-generation 5G services, which promise to deliver not just faster phones and video, but also connected cars and internet-connected industrial sensors over the next decade.
“Many of the things we enable you to do, you can do before 5G,” Yvette Kanouff, general manager of Cisco’s business unit for telecom service providers, told Reuters in an interview. Ray Mota, an industry analyst at ACG Research, said Cisco was looking to convince operators to spend more on what he called “precursors to 5G”, which solve pressing network issues but won’t need to be replaced once 5G rolls out in earnest starting around 2020. Ovum, another research firm, said Cisco’s message was that “an operator can deliver much of the functionality of 5G, with up to 85% of its features, today.”

[“Source-economictimes.indiatimes”]

Facebook Says SMS Spam Received by Two-Factor Authentication Users Was a Bug

Facebook Says SMS Spam Received by Two-Factor Authentication Users Was a Bug

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Facebook users had been getting SMS notifications after signing up for 2F
  • Users’ responses to notifications would appear as status updates on Faceb
  • Facebook acknowledged the issue and promised a fix

Facebook users, over the past week, have reportedly been getting SMS notifications from the social media website after signing up for the two-factor authentication security feature. While the two-factor authentication is a vital part of protecting online accounts by adding a second layer of security, the text messages, interestingly, were not related to any security features. This gave rise to speculation that Facebook was trying to increase user engagement However, Facebook has now responded to the issue saying that it was a bug, and that such notifications were not meant to be sent.

While two-factor authentication is considered a vital measure of security, requiring an attacker to have both the user’s password and physical access to a registered device before being able to log into the user’s account. However, on Facebook, the system appears to have ended up being a problem for its users, thanks to SMS notifications. Interestingly, users also complained that if they replied to the SMS notifications, these would appear as status updates on Facebook.

Alex Stamos, Facebook Chief Security Officer, explains in a blog post that it was not Facebook’s intention to send non-security-related SMS notifications to phone numbers, and also apologised for the inconvenience caused to users. He wrote, “The last thing we want is for people to avoid helpful security features because they fear they will receive unrelated notifications.”

Facebook has also promised that the bug will be fixed soon. “We are working to ensure that people who sign up for two-factor authentication won’t receive non-security-related notifications from us unless they specifically choose to receive them, and the same will be true for those who signed up in the past. We expect to have the fixes in place in the coming days,” said Stamos.

Responding to why users responses to SMS notifications would appear as status updates, Facebook again said it was an unintended consequence, and was enabled by an older functionality where users could post to Facebook via text message. This functionality would soon be deprecated, Facebook said.

While you wait for Facebook to come out with a fix, you can go to Settings > Notifications to switch off text notifications. You can also use a code generator app and a U2F key instead of providing your phone numbers to Facebook when enabling 2FA.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Xiaomi Mi A1 Android 8.0 Oreo Beta Update Needs Testers, Says Company

Xiaomi Mi A1 Android 8.0 Oreo Beta Update Needs Testers, Says Company

HIGHLIGHTS

  • All Mi A1 users are eligible to apply for the program
  • Active users on the MIUI Global Forum will be selected for testing
  • Xiaomi warns that this will not be a stable build

Xiaomi is now inviting applications from beta testers for the Android 8.0 Oreo update that will roll out soon on the Xiaomi Mi A1. The announcement, posted on the official MIUI website, invited beta testers to test out stock Android on the Mi A1. This comes as great news for people who purchased the phone as Xiaomi had promised an Oreo update by the end of the year.

The application states that all Mi A1 users are eligible to apply and only the device’s IMEI number is to be provided for the application. All submitted IMEI numbers will not be revealed publicly. If you use a Mi A1, you can check your IMEI by dialling *#06# on the phone’s dialler.

You also need to have the MIUI Global Forum app installed on the device. On the homepage of the app, select Recruitment. Fill out your information as stated. Click the Submit button. Xiaomi will send selected members a Forum PM for confirmation.

The deadline for the application is 11:59pm CST (9:30pm IST) on December 11, 2017 (Beijing Time) and is valid for all regions but has a mandatory communication language of English. Xiaomi states that the applicant must ideally have an interest to test betas and some knowledge about ROMs. They should also be active on the MIUI Global Forum and willing to discuss with other members in both QQ group and forum. Once selected, the beta testers are required to share bug reports on time. They are also required to discuss and answer queries on the forum.

A standard disclaimer states that this is not a stable ROM, so expect bugs with the ROM and think twice before you apply for it. Also, bugs need time to fix and developers are not expected to rush to resolve issues.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]