The shape of things to comeNew composite materials promise of efficiency and ruggedness

Published 30 October 2006

Cast metal matrix composites, or MMCs, can be used to make more economical cars; car engines which consume less energy and can keep running on low oil; lead-free plumbing fixtures; tanks that are light enough to be airlifted; and buildings, including bomb shelters, which are more blast-proof and fire-resistant

We are always told that there are trade offs, as in this example: The safety and fuel efficiency of cars. In these days of high oil prices and environmental awareness, you want cars to be as light as possible so that they consume less gas and are less polluting of the environment. Lighter cars, however, typically mean lighter, thinner materials, which makes the cars less safe in the event of collision or roll over (we wonder how many of our readers would remember the Citroën 2CV [deux chevaux]