A three-fold increase in lead in the past three years is aiding in the phase-out of the toxic metal in some applications. Example: There’s a surge in demand for environmentally friendly stabilizers used in polyvinyl chloride. The Baerlocher Group of Companies of Munich, Germany, reports higher demand for its calcium-based stabilizers as well as calcium-and zinc stearate stabilizers used to improve thermal performance. Baerlocher is investing 20 million Euros ($29 million) to boost production capacity in Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India and Malaysia. In a program called Vinyl 2010, the European vinyl industry has made a voluntary commitment to improve the environmental profile of PVC.
NASA and Boeing developed a huge, carbon composite cryogenic fuel tank for deep space missions, and started testing it last month. The 18-ft cryotank will enable heavy-lift launch vehicles to send both humans and robots into deep space.
German engineering firm EDAG Group showed a single-piece, 3D-printed car body design inspired by a turtle at the Geneva Motor Show. It came about after an assessment of how additive manufacturing could be applied to making industrial components, modules, and complete vehicle bodies.
Some of the biggest self-assembled building blocks and structures made from engineered DNA have been developed by researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute. The largest, a hexagonal prism, is one-tenth the size of an average bacterium.
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