Materials

  • World's first cardboard vacuum cleaner unveiled

    A U.K. vacuum cleaner manufacturer will market a high performance vacuum cleaner constructed out of recycled and recyclable materials; the device was designed by an industrial design student; the corrugated cardboard panels that form the body of the machine are easily replaced if damaged and cost just a tenth of the price of an equivalent plastic panel

  • Fire retardant shows promise -- if given space

    Scientists have demonstrated that the more widely and uniformly dispersed nanoscale plates of clay are in a polymer, the more fire protection the nanocomposite material provides; when polymer — a type of polystyrene, used in packaging, insulation, plastic cutlery, and many other products — is imbued with nanometer scale plates of montmorillonite, the combination can create a material with unique properties or properties superior to those achievable by each component — clay or polymer — on its own

  • Japanese discovery could undermine China's rare earth dominance

    A new discovery by Japanese researchers could break China’s stranglehold over rare Earth metals; Japanese geologists say they have found large deposits of rare Earth minerals on the floor of the Pacific Ocean; it is estimated that the mud of the Pacific Ocean contains 100 billion tons of these minerals

  • New technology makes textiles permanently germ-free

    University of Georgia scientist develops a new technology that makes textiles permanently germ-free, targeting healthcare-associated infections; the new material effectively kills a wide spectrum of bacteria, yeasts, and molds that can cause disease, break down fabrics, create stains, and produce odors

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  • Quake-resistant superelastic alloy developed

    Japanese scientists added a small amount of nickel to an iron-based alloy, and found that the new material can recover its original shape at any temperature from -196 to 240 degrees Celsius; the material may be used in environments that are constantly exposed to extreme temperatures, such as joints and controls in cars, planes, and spacecraft; it may also help buildings cushion stress and violent movement in earthquakes

  • "Sensing skin" to monitor concrete infrastructure health inexpensively

    In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) assigned the grade D to the overall quality of infrastructure in the United States and said that ongoing evaluation and maintenance of structures was one of five key areas necessary for improving that grade; civil engineers recently proposed a new method for the electronic, continual monitoring of structures

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  • Bomb-proof bag for planes' luggage compartment developed

    The blast-absorbing bag, named the Fly-Bag, features multiple layers of novel fabrics, composites, and coatings and is designed to be filled with passenger luggage and then placed in the hold of a plane; if one of the pieces of luggage inside the Fly-Bag had a bomb in it and the bomb exploded during the flight, the resulting blast would be absorbed by the bag owing to its complex fabric structure, preventing damage to the plane; fundamental to the design of the bag is the internal elastomeric coating and impregnation of fabric with Shear Thickening Fluids (STF); STFs work by increasing in viscosity in response to impact

  • New building material could help solve bridge woes

    With infrastructure in the United States rapidly aging and in need of repair, new building materials made in Maine that make bridges cheaper, lighter, and more durable could help cash starved states undertake critical infrastructure investment; using lightweight hybrid composite beams, the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) has just completed the largest composite bridge in the world; the new bridge is projected to last at least 100 years; the material’s weight, cost, and durability have generated a lot of interest across the country

  • Ceramic armor receives development prize

    New ceramic armor has many advantages: currently the ceramic composite offers a 30 percent weight saving compared with an armor plate of the same size made of alumina ceramics and is 15 percent lighter than another widely used ceramic armor, silicon carbide; it also requires a much lower furnace temperature meaning less energy is used and less CO2 is produced in manufacture, making it an environmentally-friendly product

  • New concrete could increase life of bridges by forty years

    Researchers have developed a new type of concrete that could increase the lifespan of bridges by more than forty years compared to normal strength concrete; the more durable type of concrete minimizes shrinkage, a problem typically found in high-strength concrete; the new concrete is also less likely to crack, which reduces the ability for corrosive materials like chlorides from de-icing salts to seep into the bridge’s internal structure; the new concrete uses a lightweight porous type of sand

  • Surprise: Thomas Edison also invented the concrete house

    Historians say Thomas Edison invented and patented in 1917 an innovative construction system to mass produce prefabricated and seamless concrete houses; most people associate this style of architectural design and type of building technology with the European avant-garde of the early twentieth century; originally motivated by the objective of providing a cost-effective prototype for the working-class home, Edison’s 1917 experiment in mass-production was one of Modernism’s first attempts to construct a building with a single material

  • Making high-speed rail tracks safer

    High-speed rail requires prestressed concrete railroad ties, as wooden cross ties are too flexible; for these ties to be effective, prestressing forces must be applied at a considerable distance before the rail load is applied; this is called the transfer length; to resist the heavy impacts the concrete ties utilize about twenty steel wires, each stressed to around 7,000 pounds; if the prestressed force is not properly transferred, failures can occur in the track

  • Forensic science to foiling fakers of Chinese art

    The field of Chinese art has become one of the hottest sectors of the global art market in recent years, and nowhere more so than in the demand for fine antique porcelain; prices for the finest Imperial porcelain have soared, but so have the ambitions of accomplished fakers, seeking to infiltrate exquisite new fakes into a market eager for top quality material; a joint effort by university researchers and an auction house will see the application of forensic science in the authentication of Chinese artifacts

  • Recycled concrete saves money

    Purdue University civil engineers are working with the Indiana Department of Transportation to perfect the use of recycled concrete for highway construction, a strategy that could reduce material costs by as much as 20 percent; “If you are going to pave, you may have to remove the old concrete and break it into pieces anyway, so recycling makes sense,” one of the researchers says

  • Researchers develop paper that is stronger than steel

    Work by Australian researchers is a step forward in the development of a material that has the potential to revolutionize the automotive, aviation, electrical, and optical industries; the composite material based on graphite that is a thin as paper and ten times stronger than steel