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November 14, 2008


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Edmund Schluessel

You occasionally hear about materials like jute or rattan, or especially hemp.

For replacements for plastic sheeting, I've heard chitin or Acetobacter-made cellulose put about. Someone even went so far as to make clothing from Acetobacter cellulose.

Nancy Barber

I have a vague memory of an undergraduate geology class back in the late 1970's where the professor (or maybe it was in a textbook) discussed the stupidity of burning such a useful, non-renewable substance as oil.

Dennis Brennan


if we're handwaving a petroleum substitute for energy that results in gargantuan amounts of cheap energy, can't we just assemble hydrocarbons by brute force?


Artificial whales. Krill goes in, oil comes out.

Will Baird

Well, there are a number of bioplastics that are running around the Bay Area. They're corn derived, but given the reality distortion field that exists in this area, it's really, really hard to tell if this is really a via $tech or Yet Another Wishful Thinking Waste.


The most recent Science News (which is growing distressingly more USA-today-ish with each passing year--but I digress) has an article about scientists researching spider silks as a potential replacement for petroleum-based man-made fibers in both clothing and industrial applications.

Did you know that spiders make up to 5 kinds of silk (silkworms only make one type, with proteins that some people are allergic to, which is why silkworm silk, the sine qua non of suture materials still has to be coated w/a petroleum-based product. And I'm digressing. Again.)

Googles 'round...

Here: http://uwadmnweb.uwyo.edu/rpc/UWTechs/VarousTechsSpiderSilk.asp

Noel Maurer

The reason, Doug, is twofold.

(1) Nobody expected fuel prices to stay that high for long.

(2) Credit markets are all f****d up. How you gonna finance a big R&D program to compensate for a cost hit that's far in the future and probably doesn't make up a big chunk of your total expenses anyway?

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