A Brooklyn, NY, researcher has created a plastic made from plants such as corn or soybeans that can be used as a biodiesel fuel. The finding may have particularly significance to the US Army which has been researching new field ration packaging that is lighter, more efficient and contributes less to waste in the field. The new bioplastic is described as stronger than polyethylene and could be used as a vehicle fuel source after rations are consumed. Dr. Richard Gross, director of Polytechnic University’s National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing of Macromolecules (CBBM), made the discovery, and is receiving a $2.34 million award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Next: Efforts will be made to make the process less costly.
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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