One of the hot trends on college campuses right now is a higher level of environmental consciousness in cafeterias, once plagued by wasteful food fights. The Sustainable Endowments Institute says that 42 percent of the schools it surveyed have cut back on use of trays, and in some cases totally eliminated them. One college estimates it has saved 14,000 gallons of water by eliminating use of trays at just one dining hall. Details can be viewed at the College Sustainability Report Card. There has also been a drop in food waste, based on the theory that people toted more when they had a tray. There’s also a trend to use of biodegradable plates and utensils, which can be thrown in a composter with food waste. Gosh, I remember when we first started using fiberglass trays in the 1950s. They were cool. Now they’re not. I also remember when I scoffed at the idea of using composters to get rid of waste. I have one now in my backyard. But I haven’t stooped to using biodegradable plates and utensils-yet.
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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