There are a lot of possible applications for shape memory actuators, but due to cost, so far they are mostly found in high-end areas such as space transportation. There is a company in Colorado which focuses on this, and has some parts on the International Space Station (http://www.ctd-materials.com/products/emc.htm).
Also, the Europeans have had a difficult time enforcing their electronics waste regulations. Apparently, some companies have decided that the penalties for illegally exporting waste to Third World countries are cheaper than the cost of complying with the regulations, particularly since they rarely get caught and when they do get caught the penalties are not always enforced. The BBC did a story on this last year (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10846395).
Until the cost of shape memory actuators goes down, and/or the cost of failing to comply with regulations goes up, I don't see this technology catching on.
Engineers at Fuel Cell Energy have found a way to take advantage of a side reaction, unique to their carbonate fuel cell that has nothing to do with energy production, as a potential, cost-effective solution to capturing carbon from fossil fuel power plants.
To get to a trillion sensors in the IoT that we all look forward to, there are many challenges to commercialization that still remain, including interoperability, the lack of standards, and the issue of security, to name a few.
This is part one of an article discussing the University of Washington’s nationally ranked FSAE electric car (eCar) and combustible car (cCar). Stay tuned for part two, tomorrow, which will discuss the four unique PCBs used in both the eCar and cCars.
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