The Chevy Volt gets 230 mpg? Wow. To me, that’s a really silly statement. How is the gas mileage of a plug-in electric car relevant? The real issues, of course, are the net impact on carbon dioxide emissions and the reliance on imported hydrocarbons. And there the picture for cars like the Volt is really fuzzy. Most of the energy for the Volt comes from the electric power grid. Forty-nine percent of electric power in the United States is generated from coal, which spews carbon dioxide and pollutants. About 7-8 percent of power is lost during transmission.
Cars like the Volt that will be charged in off-peak hours (overnight) in areas heavily reliant on hydro and nuclear power, such as the Toronto area or parts of California, will definitely be a major improvement over gas-powered cars,
But I haven’t seen a scientific third-party study that really lays out the facts on the real net contribution of electric vehicles. To announce that it achieves 230 mpg is silly and misleading.
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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