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:
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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