In his 2003 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush, requested $1.2 billion in spending on hydrogen-powered cars. This month, the Obama administration announced that U.S. Energy Department funding for hydrogen-related projects would be cut by 60 percent to $68.2 million next fiscal year. That concurs with what I felt was the overall consensus at a seminar on hydrogen power at last fall’s Society of Manufacturing Engineer’s annual conference. The remaining federal funding will focus on hydrogen power for buildings. ”We’re going to be moving away from hydrogen-fuel cells for vehicles,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “We asked ourselves, is it likely in the next 10 or 15, or even 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy? The answer, we felt, was no.”
Like it or not, the Obama administration is making tough calls, and picking its shots. The federal government will boost funding for biofuels by 8.3 percent to $235 million and for advanced battery-powered and gasoline engine autos by 22 percent to $333.3 million.
Meanwhile, Honda, General Motors and Toyota Motor plan to continue development of hydrogen-powered autos
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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