When the term “wind turbine” comes to mind, you usually think of hulking goliaths that dominate the landscape. And in fact, as I wrote about last November, there is a dramatic trend toward large wine turbines that generate more electricity. At the same time though, turbines with seven-feet-long blades are popping up on the tops of office and apartment buildings in Michigan, and elsewhere. Tom Huff, an urban developer, put one of the mini turbines on top of a 10-story building he was renovating in Kalamazoo, MI. The turbine needs winds of at least 8 mph to generate electricity, and under optimal conditions, could generate 2,000 kilowatt-hours a year. Huff figure he will recover the cost of the turbine in five years with the help of a significant federal tax credit. The average installed cost of the Swift Turbine is $10,000 to $12,000.
Huff’s turbine was manufactured in nearby Grand Rapids by Cascade Engineering, which invested in a business that developed the turbine called Renewable Devices Swift Turbines Ltd. of Edinburgh, Scotland. Cascade made the investment after discovering it could reduce the cost by injection molding a rotor, which previously had been manufactured with a labor intensive process using expensive carbon fiber. Cascade now makes the rotors and distributes the turbines.
Dow Chemical and several other companies have launched a program in Omaha, Neb. to divert about 36 tons of plastics from landfills in its first phase, and convert it into energy used for cement production.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
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