The word is in: An article in yesterday’s New York Times declares that stainless steel is better than plastic bottles for the environment–if one stainless bottle takes the place of at least 50 plastic bottles. The two writers of the column are developing a software product that conducts lifecycle assessments. They issued their verdict on stainless steel bottles after taking into account the environmental impacts of mining iron ore, chromium, and nickel, transporting them large distances, making the steel, transporting the steel, fabricating the bottles, and so on.
I can’t comment on the quality of the argument because zero data is provided on any of the inputs, and no information at all is provided on the plastic product.Assuming they are correct, however, isn’t this a little strange? Under what circumstances would someone use a stainless steel bottle to drink water? A hike maybe. No, stainless is too heavy. And how does stainless steel get into the recycling stream? Do you take it to a car shredder? What if people re-fill plastic bottles to drink water?
And what about the environmental waste of printing this silliness on half a page of the New York Times and distributing it across North America to a million people?
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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