The primary sources of biomass for the lignin feedstock material for the carbon fiber production equipment in a new federal Carbon Fiber Technology Center will be:
Switchgrass grown for production of cellulosic ethanol and related biofuels.
Hybrid poplars (Populus species) similarly grown for production of cellulosic ethanol and related biofuels.
Hard and softwood tree plantations (Tree Farms) grown for pulp and paper production (primarily softwood in North America).
Waste wood materials (sawdust, wood shavings, etc.) from the forest products industry.
That’s according to Dr. Frederick S. Baker, CSci, CChem, FRSC Distinguished R&D Staff at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) in Tennessee. The purpose of the project is to dramatically reduce the cost of carbon fiber so that it becomes affordable for use in automotive composites.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.