Report: Biochemicals, Bio-Based Materials Capacity to Jump
The manufacturing capacity of bio-based materials and biochemicals, including those going into bioplastics, will increase sharply by 2017. At scale, and in theory, they will be produced at costs competitive with petro-based chemicals and materials. The majority will continue to be based on first-generation feedstocks like corn. (Source: Lux Research)
Like our biofuels report yesterday, the results of this one are still good news, but of a different kind: more potential choice of chemicals from which to make bioplastics, among other things, but not as many second-generation feedstocks as some of us would like.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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