Genetic modification moves to a new level with a technology to produce bioacrylic under development by OPX Biotechnologies, Boulder, CO. Since beginning pilot scale development in 2009, the company says it has reduced bioacrylic production cost by 85 percent. The target price is $0.50 per pound.
Its proprietary technology, called EDGE (Efficiency Directed Genome Engineering), is said to rapidly develop a microbe and bioprocess. OPX generates mutations that track genes responsible for performance changes. OPX researchers then select genetic changes from a variety of randomly created strains and combine them. OPX claims its technology is 1,000 to 5,000 times faster than conventional genetic engineering methods. Biomass and other feedstocks are used.
OPX has retained Merrick & Company to design its demonstration and commercial manufacturing plants, which are scheduled to become operational in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
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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