Xerox is working on a new type of of paper and complimentary printer that would produce documents that fade away after 16 to 24 hours so you can just reuse the same paper over and over again. This technology could save a lot of energy and trees.
How does it work? The paper is coated with photosensitive chemicals that turn dark when hit with UV light.
Users don't have to wait for the paper to fade either. By running it through the special printer made for this paper, the printer will erase the old image before putting the new one on.
The paper and printer could hit the market in a few years.
The same sheets of paper can be run through the printer hundreds of time, according to tests conducted by Xerox, said Eric Shrader, area manager, energy systems, device hardware laboratory at Xerox. Typically, the paper isn't reusable only when it gets damaged or crumpled.
The idea is to cut the amount of energy consumed in making paper and printing. Like refurbished PC makers have noted, reusing an item consumes a lot less power than making a new one, or even recycling one.
It takes about 204,000 joules to make a sheet of paper, Shrader said. That's about the same amount of power required to run a 60-watt light bulb for an hour, he added. Recycling that same sheet of paper takes about 114,000 joules.
Printing a conventional 8x11.5 sheet of paper takes about 2,000 joules, he said.
Reusable paper takes a lot less effort. It only takes 1,000 joules to print an image on one of Xerox's reusable sheets of paper, and that's if you use the printer to erase the image. If you let the image fade naturally, it only takes about 100 joules to print. It takes energy to produce the special paper, but the energy consumed in recycling fades out.
"Being able to reuse paper is a big energy win," Shrader said.
More info at CNET. Sounds pretty interesting but personally I don't really think disappearing ink will become a huge hit.