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.
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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