A new, lightweight, high-performance conductor reinforced with an aluminum matrix composite wire developed for overhead power cables should increase transmission capacity, reduce costs, and meet environmental goals. The composite conductor, a joint endeavor of 3M and Electricite de France (EDF), will span three development phases over four years. The composite wire, reinforced with 3M's patented Nextel ceramic fibers, has the potential to provide two to three times the strength-to-weight ratio of comparable steel wire, according to 3M's Warren E. Vollmar. He anticipates the wire will have four times the electrical conductivity and less than half the thermal expansion of its steel counterpart. "These conductors are being developed for use in reconductoring applications to increase ampacity by an anticipated 40 to 100%," Vollmar adds. Both 3M and EDF will fund its own development activities. FAX (612) 736-7149.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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