I commented yesterday on the ridiculous study commissioned by the American Christmas Tree Association that claims PVC Christmas trees are better for the environment than natural trees. A study earlier this year by a consulting firm in Canada makes the opposite conclusion. ”The results for this impact category are clear: the natural tree is better than the artificial tree considering an average life span of six years for the artificial tree. This conclusion holds true for resource depletion as well,” state researchers for Ellipsos of Montréal, Quebec. If someone kept an artificial tree for a very long time, “ideally over 20 years”, they could reduce the impacts of the artificial tree, says Ellipsos.
If you like to drive deep into the country to chop down your own tree, then you could be better off with a PVC tree, strictly from an environmental lifecycle analysis, says the study. I say, go into the country, have a great time with your kids, and chop down your own tree. Deposit the tree at a composting site when done. I didn’t do any research, but how is that worse than a PVC tree made in China?
Thanks to my colleague Don Loepp at Plastics News for citing my blog post, and pointing out the Ellipsos citation in one of the Plastics News comments.
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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