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Composites Industry News

News for September 2001


Carbon Nanotubes May Mean Tiny Computer Chips

7th September 2001 0 comments

Reaching a long-sought goal in computing research, scientists have created a computer circuit based on a single molecule, which could lead one day to far smaller and faster computer chips that use less power. International Business Machines Corp. said Sunday that its researchers have built a logic circuit — a set of electronic components that performs a processing function — based on a tiny cylindrical structure made up of carbon atoms that is about 100,000 times thinner than a human hair. The breakthrough is IBM’s second this year using the molecules called carbon nanotubes as semiconductors, making them an increasingly viable alternative to silicon, which forms the base of current chips, IBM said. “Carbon nanotubes are now the top candidate to replace silicon when current chip features just can’t be made any smaller,” said IBM’s Phaedon Avouris, lead scientist on the project. ”Such beyond-silicon nanotube electronics may then lead to unimagined progress in computing miniaturization and power.” Scientists are looking for a replacement for silicon because in the next 10 to 15 years they expect that it will no longer be possible to reduce the size of chips using silicon, which will limit improvements in chip size and speed. In a couple of years, IBM expects to start working on ways of building the new chips and will know how the size of the elements in the nanotube chip compare with those of silicon chips. While researchers had already found a way to form nanotubes into transistors, IBM’s latest achievement showed that a nanotube can be used to make a logic circuit, the key to computing. IBM scientists used a nanotube to make a ‘NOT’ gate, which has both a positive and negative transistor, meaning that the entire circuit can perform the processing functions critical to computing. A carbon nanotube is a single molecule that’s about 500 times narrower than the silicon used in today’s processor and is about 10 atoms across. In addition, a nanotube creates less heat than silicon and uses less power and space. IBM said a nanotube circuit’s signal output is strong enough to drive other gates or circuits, which means that more complex circuits could be built using a single nanotube. These complex circuits are the next step toward molecular computer chips, IBM said. IBM hopes to begin to develop the carbon nanotubes in two years, although it will be another 10 to 15 years before a product hits the market.

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Volvo Ocean Race Fleet Ready to Compete

7th September 2001 0 comments

The Volvo Ocean Race is recognized as the pre-eminent test of long-distance ocean yacht racing, with top level sailors challenging the world’s toughest seas and sailing conditions in a nine-month point-to-point battle that begins September 23 in Southampton, England and ends next summer in Kiel, Germany. But the boats themselves remain the same powerful racing machines that are so exhilarating when the conditions are favorable. Although called V.O.60s, they are 60 feet long on the water line but, with overhangs at both the bow and stern, are usually about 64 feet long. They are built from Kevlar and their carbon fibre masts tower 90 feet above the deck, supporting huge sails which develop phenomenal horsepower. Like Formula 1 race cars, they are all built to rules which control the dimensions, but allow differences for designers to exploit. The race takes the fleet on from Cape Town to Sydney. On Boxing Day they set off on the classic Sydney to Hobart Race as part of the third leg to Auckland. Each must make a minimum pit stop in Hobart, Tasmania, of three hours. The rest of the competitors can take a day or two to recover. From Auckland they exit the Southern Ocean when they round Cape Horn and finish the fourth leg in Rio de Janeiro. Legs five and six take them to Miami then Baltimore and the leg seven sees them re-cross the Atlantic to La Rochelle. The final two legs are almost sprints, taking them first from the Bay of Biscay to Gothenburg and then on to the finale in Kiel. It could go down to the wire.

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Next-Generation Composite Combat Vehicles

7th September 2001 0 comments

3TEX has signed a long-term strategic alliance with ATAK, Inc. (American Technology Applications Knowledge, Inc, recognized as a developer of cutting-edge structural/ballistic advanced composite materials. “”ATAK is known around the world for defining the state-of-the-art in the design of lightweight, thick laminate, composite structures, cutting-edge advanced composite material technologies, product quality, and customer satisfaction,”” said Brad Lienhart 3TEX CEO. “”We are extremely pleased to have reached this important milestone. ATAK is an ideal partner as we expand 3TEX technology into new and revolutionary industry applications.”” ATAK and 3TEX have formed a venture combining ATAK’s material technology and composite military vehicle design expertise together with the patented 3D Weaving preform technology developed by 3TEX. The result is a unique composite material system designated ATAK MAT-5, for the construction of highly survivable, lightweight, low cost, composite military vehicle hull structures, “”The result is a highly repeatable, extremely high quality, low cost, composite vehicle hull, utilizing automated fabrication techniques,”” said D. Erich Weerth, Founder and CEO of ATAK, Inc. “”We are very excited about our relationship with 3TEX. Together we will be able to offer the lightest weight, most highly survivable combat vehicle technology available today, and far into the future, at quality and cost levels never before thought possible””.

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Dura Products Engages Wall Street Investor Relations Corp

7th September 2001 0 comments

Dura Products International has engaged Wall Street Investor Relations Corp. to provide the Company with advice and support in its investor relations program. Wall Street Investor Relations Corp, a consulting firm founded and operated by senior institutional equity industry professionals, will conduct a dynamic campaign to increase investor awareness of Dura Products and its exceptional investment merits. Joe Zappulla, president and CEO of WSIR, commented, “”Dura Products is an emerging star in the North American market. The replacement of wood by composite material is accelerating and Dura Products is on the leading edge of that development. We are eager to introduce Dura Products’ investment thesis to the investment community.”” Michael Zuk, president and CEO of Dura Products added, “”We have spent six years perfecting our composite technology and are now aggressively moving to market what we believe to be the best product in the industry.”” Mr. Zuk added, “”Wall Street Investor Relations’ knowledge of the investment process and its credibility with institutional and individual investor communities will ensure that our story reaches qualified investors and existing shareholders in a manner they will understand.””

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Maiden Flight of Japan’s H-IIA Launch Vehicle

7th September 2001 0 comments

ATK rocket motor case and advanced composite material technologies supported the successful maiden launch today of Japan’s new H-IIA space launch vehicle on Wednesday. In a unique arrangement and in cooperation with IHI Aerospace Co., ATK Thiokol Propulsion Company designed the composite rocket motor case for the H-IIA vehicle’s two ground-lit Solid-Rocket Boosters (SRB-As). The company also supplied graphite-epoxy, preimpregnated resin materials for use in constructing the case. The H-IIA family of launch vehicles, which will comprise five separate vehicle configurations, is being developed under the direction and funding of the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). All five configurations will feature ATK’s rocket motor case and composite technology. The H-IIA vehicle configuration flown on the maiden flight has an LE-7A liquid engine in the core and two SRB-A motors, and is capable of placing payloads weighing up to four metric tons into orbit. The first vehicle did not have a satellite payload, but carried a three-ton weight to simulate future spacecraft loads and a mirrored ball to test for orbital insertion. NASDA’s next flight of the H-IIA is scheduled for early 2002.

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Delays in Processing Occupational Disease Claims

7th September 2001 0 comments

The union representing 170 former employees of a now closed Sarnia fiberglass plant is calling for an end to the delays in processing their compensation claims. “”Not only do these people face sickness, disease and even death every day of their lives, they face financial burdens as well,”” says Cec Makowski, Ontario Vice-President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. The bulk of the claims were filed in 1998, but workers’ concerns about health issues related to their employment go back to 1994. “”It’s time for Owens Corning to stop delaying the process and provide information that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board requested in March 2001,”” says Makowski. The CEP has done a tremendous amount of work in preparing these claims for adjudication. Each claim required months of information gathering and research on workplace exposures and their effects as well as the linkages between the worker exposures and their occupational disease claims. The claims have been filed on behalf of those workers and their families and now its time to adjudicate these claims. The Board needs Owens Corning to provide relevant technical and manufacturing information to enable the Board to effectively adjudicate the claims.

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Fiberglass Dinosaur Display

7th September 2001 0 comments

The replica skeletons of the flesh-eating Giganotosaurus and the larger but strictly vegetarian Argentinosaurus are on permanent display at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. In the museum’s 86-foot-tall atrium, the Argentinosaurus protects a clutch of eggs from the attacking Giganotosaurus — a scene that likely was common when the two giants roamed Argentina’s lush Patagonia region about 100 million years ago. A flock of 21 winged pterosaurs hovers over the death match. The first Argentinosaurus fossil was found in 1987 by Guillermo Heredia, a sheep rancher in Argentina, who mistook the fossil for petrified wood. Heredia eventually took the fossil to the Museo Camen Funes in Neuquen, Argentina, where paleontologist Rodolfo Coria and a team of seven scientists uncovered 12 bones belonging to the mammoth creature. The actual fossils remain at the Museo Camen Funes, which isn’t large enough to house an assembled skeleton. But the bones are considered a national treasure and could not legally leave Argentina, so they cast replica bones in fiberglass and shipped them to the United States.

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Regulators Delay Concorde Decision

7th September 2001 0 comments

French and British air regulators said Tuesday they need more time to analyze information from the manufacturers of Concorde before allowing the supersonic airliner to resume commercial flights. A decision to declare the plane airworthy is now expected later this week or early next week, rather than Tuesday or Wednesday as previously forecast by officials in Paris. “We needed supplementary information from the manufacturers as not all the possible scenarios have been considered,” said Gerard Le Houx, a spokesman for France’s DGAC air regulator. “We wouldn’t rule out a decision this week, but we may have to wait until Monday,” a spokesman for the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority told Reuters. “There’s no reason to suspect at the moment that (the airworthiness certificate) won’t be awarded.” The CAA spokesman added that the British regulator was likely to demand further alterations to the planes before they can return to commercial service. It is over a year since an Air France Concorde burst into flames after take-off and then crashed near Paris, killing 113 people. The manufacturers have hardened the fuel tanks, added stronger tires and modified undercarriage wiring. Hopes grew that Concorde would take to the air as early as next month after a series of successful test flights by its owners Air France SA and British Airways Plc using the modified planes. The airlines are losing an estimated $4.07 million and $9.64 million a month respectively to keep the planes grounded. BA expects the modifications, which involve lining fuel tanks with Kevlar, fitting tougher tires and modifying undercarriage wiring, will cost it an additional 30 million pounds. The British carrier said it was unconcerned at the delay and expressed confidence that Concorde would get the go-ahead to resume commercial service. Concorde was designed and manufactured by a group of French and British companies that have since become the European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co and BAE Systems Plc.

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FRP Materials for Australian Bridge Applications

7th September 2001 0 comments

This workshop, to be held on 12 September at the University of Sydney, will review some current US applications, local experiences, and design rules, to assess if these materials are ready for widespread use in Australian infrastructure. The overall objective of the course is to present a true assessment of the suitability of FRP materials for bridge structures in Australia. The focus will be on asset-holder issues, presented by people who have experience with bridges and/or FRP materials. The key presentations will include a review of materials, technologies, successes and failures of these FRP’s in bridge applications in USA.

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Pathfinder composite liquid oxygen tank

7th September 2001 0 comments

A joint effort between NASA and Lockheed Martin has resulted in the development and successful initial testing of the first sub-scale cryogenic tank built of a composite material that is compatible with liquid oxygen. Lockheed Martin designed and built the composite tank, and NASA is testing it at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The tank has successfully completed the initial cycles of cryogenic, or very low temperature, proof testing in liquid oxygen. In testing, the tank is enduring thermal and pressure environments that simulate flight conditions a liquid oxygen tank would experience on a space launch vehicle. The tank also will undergo life cycle testing at Marshall Center to demonstrate mission life capabilities. “”This marks a real advance in space technology,”” said Michael Phipps, NASA project manager for this material characteristics development unit. “”No approved standards for composite pressure vessels exist; there has not been enough information on them to write standards. So the technical data we are getting from this effort is very valuable.”” Using state-of-the-art cryogenic composite tank analysis, fabrication, and inspection techniques, the Lockheed Martin/NASA team designed and constructed the tank at both the Marshall Center and the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The composite tank is approximately nine feet (2.7 meters) in length and four feet (1.2 meters) in diameter and weighs less than 500 pounds (225 kilograms), which represents an 18 percent weight savings over a metal tank of similar construction. Composites are seen as one of the key components in the drive by NASA and the aerospace industry to decrease the weight of future launch vehicles as a means of reducing the cost of launching payloads into orbit from the current $10,000 per pound to $1,000 per pound. That is one of the goals of NASA’s Second Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program, a research and technology development effort that also aims to substantially improve safety and reliability. The Marshall Center manages that program for NASA. NASA at the Marshall Center and at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico has worked together with Lockheed Martin since 1997 to develop the approach and test methods for demonstrating composite liquid oxygen tanks. NASA and Lockheed Martin tested the material extensively following a building-block approach. This approach began with coupon testing, progressing to panels, then to specific tank type interfaces and joints, scaling up to small bottles, and finally to this sub-scale tank.

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