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.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
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