I'm noticing a trend in your recent stories. Namely, that rising prices of existing materials (in this case, ABS plastic) is/are driving the search for more economically viable substitutes. This is analogous to the economic driver in the alternative energy field. I'm wondering if you perceive an ongoing trend here (that the prices of exisiting materials will continue to rise, spurring further research) or whether there's instability, and we might see a whipsawing back and forth as prices fluctuate.
Alex, my opinion is that we will continue to see a rollar coaster of pricing for plastics derived from hydrocarbons. I think major oil producing countries, notably Saudi Arabia, will boost production to lower hydrocarbon prices when we approach the tipping point toward alternative feestocks and fuels. And for that reason, many companies will be reluctant to make major commitments to alternative feedstocks unless there is legislative and regulatory pressure to do so. And I don't see that happening in the USA given the political climate in the country. But it is happening in Italy, and there are signs of potenital action in other European countries and Japan.
Domestic production of feedstock for polymers definitely helps the bottom line and would allow companies to level load production and maintain the same profit margin. Large companies like Solvay going after PA production from bio feedstock is a good sign for the future of the use of organic matter to produce plastic.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
Using Siemens NX software, a team of engineering students from the University of Michigan built an electric vehicle and raced in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. One of those students blogged for Design News throughout the race.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.