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TechCrunch

Via Separations, a startup co-founded by Shreya Dave ’16 and Brent Keller ’16 after conducting research with MIT Professor Jeffrey Grossman, has announced a $38 million Series B led by NGP ETP, reports Ron Miller for TechCrunch. “Basically, our vision is if we can decarbonize that supply chain infrastructure, then we don’t have to rely on consumers having to make a decision between the thing that they want and how to do good for the planet” says Dave.  

WCVB

WCVB-TV spotlights two MIT startups, True Moringa, a beauty and wellness company that uses the oil from Moringa trees grown in Ghana to directly benefit farmers in Ghana, and Sourcemap, which traces supply chains and provides transparency about where goods are stemming from. Says Kwami Williams ’12, co-founder and CEO, of his inspiration for True Moringa: “I started to ask myself, if aerospace engineers can help put a man on the Moon, then what can I do to help put more food on the table for families” in Ghana.

Mashable

Mashable reporter Emmett Smith spotlights how MIT researchers have created a new toolkit for designing wearable devices that can be 3D printed. “The researchers used the kit to create sample devices, like a personal muscle monitor that uses augmented reality,” explains Smith, “plus a device for recognizing hand gestures and a bracelet for identifying distracted driving.”

Forbes

Ben Armstrong, interim executive director of the MIT Industrial Performance Center, speaks with Forbes contributor Ethan Karp about the labor shortage in manufacturing and the future of the field. “We want to have companies that are really driving technology forward and forcing us to adjust our training system to be more technologically advanced,” says Armstrong. “Instead, the problem is that a lot of small and medium manufacturers are offering comparatively low-wage, low-tech jobs that are oftentimes low-skilled. So companies are adapting a lot of their operations to a lower-technology, lower-wage, lower-skill equilibrium.”

National Geographic

National Geographic reporter Roxanne Khamsi spotlights how Prof. Richard Braatz is working on developing continuous manufacturing processes that could help boost global vaccine availability. Khamsi notes that one feature Braatz and his colleagues are testing is using “a filter that attaches to the side of their production tanks to continuously extract vaccine material, rather than harvesting it in bulk.”

Reuters

Reuters reporter Timothy Aeppel spotlights a new report by MIT researchers examining how automation is spreading to small and medium-sized factories in America. “Among the 34 companies with 500 employees or fewer in Ohio, Massachusetts and Arizona that the MIT researchers visited in their project, only one had bought robots in large numbers in the last five years,” writes Aeppel, “and that was an Ohio company that had been acquired by a Japanese multinational which pumped in money for the new automation.”

The Boston Globe

Institute Professor Suzanne Berger speaks with Boston Globe reporter Jonathan Schlefer about how to ensure the new Senate bill that invests in research and development helps strength small and medium-sized companies. “The focus can’t just be on large firms at the top of the manufacturing chain because their ability to produce a range of advanced goods depends on their base of suppliers,” says Berger. “And today those suppliers lack the technology and skills to make the parts that would allow the top of the chain to take off.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Mark Wilson writes that MIT researchers have developed a new light-sensitive paint, dubbed ChromoUpdate, that makes it easy for people to change the color and pattern on a variety of objects. Wilson notes there are a number of applications for ChromoUpdate, from testing out different colors on a product to “quickly projecting what is essentially data onto everyday objects could make smart homes even smarter, without the use of more screens in your house.”

Mashable

Researchers from MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab and other organizations have created a new method to produce liquid metal, reports Mashable. The researchers hope “the new process will be used to change metal design and production processes and get applied in architecture components or product design.”

The Interchange

On The Interchange podcast, Prof. Jessika Trancik discusses her research exploring the cost declines in lithium-ion batteries and what it will take to reach mass-market adoption of electric vehicles.

The Economist

A new study by Prof. Jessika Trancik and postdoctoral associate Micah Ziegler examining the plunge in lithium-ion battery costs finds that “every time output doubles, as it did five times between 2006 and 2016, battery prices fall by about a quarter,” reports The Economist. “A doubling in technological know-how, measured by patent filings, is associated with a 40% drop in price.”

BBC News

Prof. Jessika Trancik speaks with the BBC Newshour about her new study analyzing the dramatic decline in the costs of lithium-ion batteries. Trancik explains that the reduced price, “opens up markets for electric vehicles for more people. The battery makes up a substantial portion of the total cost of an electric vehicle and the fact that costs have fallen by 97% over the last few decades means that these cars are no longer just for the wealthy.”

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that MIT researchers have developed a new technique for turning plastic into a wearable material. “Engineers at MIT have managed to weave polyethylene into fibers that absorb and evaporate water more quickly than cotton, nylon, polyester and other common textiles,” writes Hays. “The authors of the new paper hope their technology will incentivize plastic recycling.”

Forbes

Writing for Forbes, Elisabeth Reynolds, executive director of the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future, underscores the need to improve job quality, increase access to education and training, and invest in technologies that augment workers. “The public and private sectors must also be innovative in the ways in which they can collaborate in creating a work of the future that leads to greater shared prosperity,” writes Reynolds.

BBC News

BBC News reporter Helen Briggs writes that MIT researchers have developed a technique to create fabrics from polythene, a plastic found in food packaging and plastic bags. "There's no reason why the simple plastic bag cannot be made into fibre and used as a high-end garment," says research scientist Svetlana Boriskina. "You can go literally from trash to a high-performance garment that provides comfort and can be recycled multiple times back into a new garment."