Scientists Unveil Laser ‘Unprinter’ That Deletes Words On Paper
A new printer invented by Cambridge scientists sounds more like a gadget from James Bond’s Q Branch than something from an office supplies store. Instead of printing pages it ‘unprints’ them, turning out pristine, clean sheets which can even be reused. The device uses a green laser to heat up toner particles attached to fibrers in the paper, causing them to evaporate.
This means the paper can be reused – creating a massive boost for the environment by reducing carbon emissions and deforestation.
Early estimates predict the pioneering research could lower emissions in the paper and pulp industry by a staggering 50 percent.
Dr Julian Allwood, who is leading the study at Cambridge University, tested dozens of lasers to discover the perfect frequency, speed and energy.
Dr Allwood said: ‘What we need to do now is find someone to build a prototype.
‘Thanks to hand-held scanners and laser-jet printers, the feasibility for reusing paper in the office is there.
‘Material recovery through reusing eliminates the forestry step from the life cycle of paper and eradicates emissions arising from incineration and landfill dumping.’
Scientists developing the tool believe by removing toner and reusing paper help cut the four steps from the paper production cycle – forestry, pulping, paper making and disposal by incineration or landfill.
Skipping these four steps would result in a whopping 95 per cent reduction in emissions per tonne produced from the production of office paper alone.
Toner removal is 19 percent more effective than recycling which only lowers omissions by 76 percent.
Dr Allwood added: ‘This is a significant contribution towards the cause of reducing climate change emissions from paper manufacturing, but there is modest room from improvement.’