Oil or not? Scientists take a big step toward creating custom organisms and MIT researchers developed a 3D-printing technique to recreate the conch shell’s structure. Enjoy this weekly feed of inspiring, interesting and intellectual articles and news, with a focus on disruption.
Oil or not?
As we all (isch) know the world can’t rely on oil to the scale that we do today. So what’s going to happen to the global demand for oil in the next few decades? Well, the forecasts are HIGHLY dependent on who you ask. If you ask oil companies themselves and industry agencies the answer is growth. Mainly driven by growth within middle class and developing countries. The industry expects the total demand to be somewhere around 10 percent larger than today by 2040, so quite a good outlook.
However, many markets and industries (car industry for instance) are in for a larger transformation in the next 10 years than what they have faced in the past 100, and forecasting models typically don’t take that sort of thing into account. In a great summary of disruptive changes that could affect the oil demand Bloomberg has found that there are three main factors that could drive a decrease in demand; efficiency, electric vehicles and fuel switching. In total these factors could displace as much as 25 percent of the total demand within the same timeframe. Let’s hope these huge and global companies have a mitigation plan and don’t belly up like coal giant Peabody which we reported on last year!
We have earlier mentioned the gene editing method CRISPR and its potential to change our lives in many ways. But while CRISPR is great at making changes in genes with high precision, it only does so at a small scale. So in order to make something anything that could be called a custom organism (or machine) we need to make changes to DNA in much larger scale. Now scientists have taken the first step in doing just that. Instead of making tiny tweaks to DNA, geneticists could rewrite whole sections, resulting in almost unrecognizable results.
Learning from nature
Replicating natural structures and phenomenon has always been a way to push development of products and technology further. Swimsuits that imitated sharkskin (to swim faster) is an example among tens of thousands. But some things have simply been too complex or too expensive for us to either understand or to replicate with modern production tools, with spider webs perhaps being the best example. Another example is the conch shell (large sea shells) that with its unique structure is one of the strongest and toughest materials on earth. MIT researchers have thanks to 3d-printing now been able to develop a technique to replicate the conch shell’s structure. “If we can understand why it’s so tough, we can mimic it to create nearly unbreakable materials that can be used for safety gear, and in construction, aerospace and other industries.” Very interesting to see how these sort of developments will be applied in the world around us!