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Los Alamos National Laboratory is part of a consortium developing a technology to rapidly break down discarded plastic at the molecular level into components that can be used to create other materials, such as nylon. The year-old research and development effort has been dubbed BOTTLE. The program was launched in November. Early research has led to identifying enzymes that can biodegrade plastic noticeably within several days, versus the several hundred years it normally would take for the material to decompose. Now the teams want to accelerate the decomposition, because breaking down the plastic in days is not nearly fast enough, lab scientist Taraka Dale said. “So what we’re shooting for is really observable changes and degradation in a matter of, ideally, hours,” said Dale, who leads the lab’s BOTTLE program. “So that you can, in theory, put this in an industrial process eventually.” The process would be fairly straightforward for users, she said. A vendor would grind up plastic trash and load it with the enzymes into a tank partially filled with water. The enzymes would break down and dissolve the plastic into the liquid. They would then transform the molecules into polymers for higher-grade products, such as carpets and clothing. Dale likened it to dismantling a brick house, and instead of simply reusing the bricks, you turn them into boards for a different purpose. The company could sell the raw material to a manufacturer, Dale said. This conversion of throwaway items and scraps into higher-quality goods, such as fabrics, would be “upcycling,” she said.

Eyes on China

At 2: 00 a.m. on September 22 Beijing time, the US Fed announced an interest rate hike by 75 basis points, raising the range of the federal funds rate to 3.00%-3.25%, which was in line with market expectations. It is worth noting that according to statistics, the market's expected probability of a 75 basis points rate hike was 82%, while that of a 100 basis points rate hike was only 18%. Therefore, expects that the rate hike will have a limited impact on the nonferrous metal market. Besides, precious metal prices may experience a short-term rebound with the support of the traditional peak season of September and October and the possible slowdown in the future rate hikes. The price trends of nonferrous metals should also be viewed in combination with the fundamentals of various varieties. Last week, the nickel industry was still in the September peak season, and the improvement in demand from stainless steel and new energy markets boosted the market. The demand for pure nickel from the alloy sector grew as well. In addition, the domestic and overseas nickel inventory were both low. Therefore, the nickel prices gained support from the above-mentioned factors. In 2022, the primary nickel supply was in surplus, most of which, however, was found in NPI. The nickel sulphate supply continued to tighten due to the less-than-expected raw material processing caused by insufficient salt capacity. Meanwhile, the pure nickel supply also remained tight as the expected imports declined. believes that nickel prices are unlikely to fall significantly in the near future, and the market shall wait and see the follow-up demand support. SHFE nickel prices are expected to move between 181,000-201,000 yuan/mt. At present, the LME nickel prices have not yet returned to the fundamentals, and the prices may fluctuate. When the prices return to normal, will resume the price forecast of LME nickel.

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