Brazil’s Braskem takes ‘green plastic’ to NASA

Global Business

A Brazilian green plastic – so called because it’s made from a renewable source instead of oil – has been chosen by NASA to be used in 3D printers in space. One big advantage of the technology is eliminating the need to wait for resupply shipments via rocket ship.

CCTV’s Paulo Cabral has more in this technology.

Brazil’s Braskem takes ‘green plastic’ to NASA

A Brazilian green plastic – so called because it’s made from a renewable source instead of oil – has been chosen by NASA to be used in 3D printers in space. One big advantage of the technology is eliminating the need to wait for resupply shipments via rocket ship. CCTV America's Paulo Cabral reports.

Brazil is a well known producer of ethanol, from sugar cane to replace fossil fuels in cars. But now it’s getting attention for using the crop to make plastic, which is usually made from oil.

This ‘green plastic,’as it’s been branded is made by Brazilian petrochemical giant Braskem.

It was picked by the U.S. space agency NASA, and by U.S. start-up company Made in Space to be used in their zero-gravity 3D printer

In their first use of the technology, astronauts made a connecting pipe for an irrigation system.

Braskem’s innovation director says its clients’ plan is to streamline space operations. They will limit costly re-supply missions and reduce the inventory of spare parts previously kept on-board.

On earth, the green plastic is already is widely used in packaging – as companies seek to reduce their carbon footprint and promote an environment friendly image.

The green plastic made from ethanol is one example of a sustainable, renewable chemical that is already being used for different industrial applications. But there are other products of this kind in the pipeline that could become part of people’s daily lives in the future.

Research in Braskem’s lab is focused on how to use different kinds of bacteria to turn ethanol and sugar into resins that can then be used to produce plastic or rubber.

Sustainable technologies are in great demand, be it on Earth or out in space.