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Resources

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Resource Fix: Molecular sorting to recover materials

Mining above grade, or recovering materials already in service, is growing more important every day, as demand for raw materials increases and supplies decrease. Unfortunately, it's often an energy-intensive and difficult - or even impossible - process to recover materials from finished products, including complex electronics, composite auto parts, or even treated wood. "Molecular Sorting for Resource Efficiency," a new project from the Fraunhofer Institute aims to change resource recovery. Scientists are working on methods to separate materials out at the molecular level so those materials can be used again and again.

For more on how it works and potential applications, visit the Institute's Beyond Tomorrow page here.

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Resource Fix: Recapturing the value of idle resources

What’s our one truly unlimited resource? Intellect. Our minds. Our ability to think through problems. The limiting factors with intellect are often related to execution. A great many ideas are literally put on a shelf and forgotten. What if you could match up fallow ideas with problems in need of a fix?

That’s what Marblar is doing. The start-up is mining university patents with the eventual aim of finding applications for them by publicizing the patents and asking readers to help fit those solutions to the right problems.

Putting idle resources back into circulation is a common theme at dMASS. We’ve shown how companies are harvesting value from bare rooftops, grassy lawns, empty rooms, and neglected tools through sharing, bartering, leasing, and other means. It’s interesting to see how intellectual property can be brought back into the fold as well. Are you aware of similar examples?

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Resource Fix: Taking away light creates better visibility

How do you improve visibility in tough driving conditions? Carnegie Mellon researchers have developed a prototype headlight system that detects rain or snow streaks and then “dis-illuminates” them – it turns off specific rays of light for a fraction of a second, making it easier for a driver to see. In other words, improved visibility doesn’t come from adding more, but from taking away. Simplifying and removing excess are common themes in good design, particularly graphic design. Think about it in terms of benefits and resources: how can you increase benefits while decreasing (taking away) resources? What other "take away" examples are you aware of in business strategy or product design?

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