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.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
This year's Dupont-sponsored WardsAuto survey of automotive designers and other engineers shows lightweighting dominates the discussion. But which materials will help them meet the 2025 CAFE standards are not entirely clear.
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.
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