Crude oil for August delivery fell 11 percent, to $128.88 a barrel last week on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the biggest one-week drop in four years. Futures had reached $147.27 a barrel on July 11, the highest since 1983. And the price of oil is going to keep dropping, says a prominent energy analyst. Edward L. Morse of Lehman predicts a plunge to $93 a barrel. Declining demand will contribute to a build-up in inventories. One of the biggest drops will come in China, which had been feeding the fire. Plus there is some new capacity coming on line. The swing in oil prices upward was more exaggerated than normal because of rising speculation on oil and other commodities by investors who no longer could find good bets in real estate, or in the stock market. Some $90 billion of new cash reportedly moved into commodity funds in the past 18 months. A drop in short-term oil price speculation will help move tags down.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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