This morning’s newspapers are full of stories of deep budgets that are sure to affect funds for scientific research. And buried deep inside is a story of a call by leading American scientists to research and develop new sources for energy-critical materials, such as lithium and tellurium.
There are two issues. Demand is rising for these materials to produce lighter weight vehicles, batteries for electric cars, thin film solar cells, and a variety of other emerging energy-related applications. At the same time, the largest known source of these materials, China, is taking steps to shut off the spigot.
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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