Dr. Robert Hebner, the director of the University of Texas' center for electromechanics, is working with flywheel batteries and attempting to reduce the size and weight of battery power on the international space station through advances in materials research and controls. "Our work involves making composites used for the flywheel that are stronger and lighter than steel," says Hebner. "We do all the processing and testing too," he says. Hebner hopes to have the project, which is managed by the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, complete in five years when the current space station batteries need replacing. NASA estimates the savings to the space station program will exceed $200 million. For more information, contact Dr. Hebner at (512) 232-1628 or e-mail email@example.com.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Microchip recently released the 3D TouchPad, the first USB PC Peripheral device that couples 2D multi-touch input with 3D air gesture technology. The company seeks the help of developers to further enhance the capabilities of the technology.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
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