The technology to erase text from paper for re-use could save many trees and our environment.
The technology to erase text from paper for re-use could save many trees and our environment. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A team of scientists at Cambridge University is close to finding a technology that would help print, erase, and print again, using the same sheet of paper, saving you the trouble of reloading paper or worrying about the environmental impact the use of paper causes.

According to a study published by the Royal Society, scientists tested a laser and heat-based model to erase content from the surface of the page. They could now be close to finding the method through which all printed text can be erased from the surface of the paper for it to be re-used for printing a new document.

The trick is to expose printed paper to green laser pulses that vaporise the ink off the paper. The toner is mostly composed of carbon and a plastic polymer. It is the polymer in the toner that is vaporised by green laser pulses, lasting just four billionths of a second, removing all text from the document.

David Leal-Ayala lead author of the report said: "When you recycle paper you use a lot of resources. You use electricity, water and chemicals, and to be honest when you print something the only reason that you don't re-use the paper is because there is print on it," according to the LA Times.

A report in New Scientist points to a product that already exists and which effortlessly removes the ink from the paper for it to be re-used. The glitch though is with the ink that is used for the printing. It has to be what the manufacturer provides as your only choice. Scientists working on the project are trying to develop something that works on ink that is in use and widely accepted.

"Toshiba have been selling the 'e-blue' toner for a while - which, like old thermal fax paper, fades under the right type of light. However that - of course - applies only if you buy their magic toner," says the Cambridge project's supervisor Julian Allwood, according to New Scientist.

What is a plus with the technology is the extra advantage of an environment-friendly procedure that produces the least harmful gases while processing a page to clear its text.

BBC estimated the value of the still-to-be-launched technology at £19,000 if made available in the present day market.