Although in development since the 1960s, NASA has recently completed two years of cycling in low earth orbit to prove the sodium sulfur cell's viability for future space missions.
It uses sodium and sulfur as the electrodes, and a solid beta alumina ceramic as the electrolyte. The end result is a battery that produces 150 W-hr/kg on the cell level, and weighs half as much as nickel-hydrogen technology.
Chuck Donet, Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate, 3550 Aberdeen Ave. S.E., Kirtland AFB, NM 87117-5776; (505) 846-4899.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.