Buried in the financial bailout bill that was signed into law last week was the renewal of production tax credits for renewable energy, such as wind power. Under the credit, generators receive a one-year, 30 percent reduction on construction costs, and the Incentive Tax Credit gives users an eight-year, 30 percent rebate on the installation of solar power systems. Even though wind and solar power make imminent sense, they still needs a boost from the U.S. government. It’s hard to tell where the presidential candidates really stand on wind power. They both say they support it.
European producers are already a step ahead on wind power because of significant government assistance. The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation awarded $5.4 million to blade maker LM Glasfiber for the development of an innovative blade technology based on the use of new types of fiber. “The new fibers will revolutionize the blade manufacturing process, and the research program, which aims to ensure that Denmark remains the world leader in wind energy, has been named ‘Blade King’,” stated an announcement.
European Commission Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament sets a target of 21 percent of electricity demand in the EU to be covered by renewable energy sources by 2010. Key aspects of the directive include:
• Streamlining of administrative procedures that precede the installation of a new plant;
• Application of support schemes that compensate renewable electricity for its positive environmental impacts and its contribution to the security of supply;
• Publication of guarantees of origin; and
• Regulation of transparent mechanisms to bear the costs of technical adaptation.
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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