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
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.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
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