You don’t often think of glass reinforcement as an issue when it comes green engineering. But engineers at Ford Motor Company are taking a different tack.
Dr. Deborah Mielewski, who heads plastics research at Ford, is studying several different plant materials as a substitute for glass as reinforcement in plastics. One of the big payoffs is a 30 percent weight reduction. The other issue, she says, is that glass fiber is a very energy-intensive process. Mielewski’s six-woman engineering group is taking a close look at kenaf, hemp, coconut hair (coir), and wheat straw.
Now comes news that glass giant Owens Corning wants to reduce the environmental footprint of glass fibers used to reinforce plastics. The company will re-start a glass fiber reinforcement manufacturing facility in Italy that has been converted to a boron- and fluorine-free process called Advantex. The new process is also more energy efficient, resulting in less demand for fossil fuel and emissions reductions of up to:
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
This month will mark the launch of the SpeedFoiler, a super-fast, ultra-lightweight foiling catamaran that can fly short distances over water faster than other foiling designs, in part because of its carbon composite materials.
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