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News for May 2003


Tejas Light Combat Aircraft Demonstrated

5th May 2003 0 comments

India held the first public demonstration of one of the world’s lightest combat aircraft on Sunday and said it would explore prospects for its export. The eight-tonne aircraft, delayed by Washington’s sanctions against India’s nuclear policy, has been designed by the government’s Aeronautical Development Agency and built by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. Cheers rent the air at the Bangalore Airport as a Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) performing in a public fly-past dipped its wings in salute to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who later named the aircraft “Tejas”, or “Radiance”. “We need to make the necessary investments for the commercial production of the LCA,” Vajpayee said. “We should also explore its export potential.” The aircraft – in development since 1983 – has been a long-cherished dream of India’s air force chiefs who wanted to reduce their country’s dependence on foreign imports. “”We have to look even further ahead and develop technologies for future generations of aircraft,”” he said. India has spent over Rs.20 billion on the LCA programme. “”At the same time, we welcome collaboration with international partners in design, development and co- production,”” Vajpayee said, describing the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile developed by India and Russia as a “”shining example”” of such joint ventures. Vajpayee also witnessed the rollout of the first of five new prototypes of the LCA at a ceremony here that was attended by Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy, top military officials and scientists. India plans to jointly market the BrahMos with Russia and hawk other indigenous hardware, ranging from the INSAS assault rifle to the Dhruv helicopter, to boost arms exports that have stagnated at about Rs 2 billion a year. “”I am sure that that other potential international partners will eventually wake up to the tremendous commercial potential of such joint collaborations with India not only for markets in our country, but also in third countries,”” Vajpayee said. But he assured the world community that India had “”adopted a most responsible policy on missile, nuclear and dual-use technologies, taking the utmost care to avoid their proliferation””. The IAF plans to induct 220 LCAs to replace its ageing fleet of Russian- designed MiG-21s that have a poor flight safety record after a string of crashes in recent years. The IAF has lost nearly 200 MiG-series jets in the past decade. Conceived in 1983, the delta-winged LCA made its maiden flight only in January 2001. The long gestation period was largely due to the fact that the US withheld critical avionics systems and engines after India’s nuclear tests in May 1998. Described by Indian scientists as the world’s lightest multi-role combat aircraft, the LCA is currently powered by the US-made GE- 404 engine but India is working on an indigenous engine called the Kaveri, which is being tested in Russia. The LCA is the second home-grown jet fighter developed by India after the HF-24 Marut that went into service with the IAF in the 1960s. Vajpayee’s christening of the jet is part of the government’s move to give Indian names to all indigenously developed military hardware, a practice that started with missiles like the nuclear-capable Agni (Fire) and Prithvi (Earth) ballistic missiles. The new LCA prototype rolled out Sunday will be lighter than the first two prototypes used for initial tests. Its airframe consists of more lightweight composite material than the earlier LCAs. “”The (new prototype) will break the sound barrier to go into the supersonic phase very shortly,”” said V.K. Atre, the head of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The prototype LCAs will be followed by the limited serial production of eight aircraft by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited at a cost of about Rs.5 billion. “”The LCA should be inducted into the IAF in 2008,”” Krishnaswamy told reporters on the sidelines of the ceremony.

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Airline Mechanics Take Damaged Rooster Under Their Wing

5th May 2003 0 comments

Inside a restricted area at the Northwest Airlines maintenance base in Duluth, a famous rooster is under repair. The 8-foot, 100-pound fiberglass fowl, a fixture on the western end of Two Harbors for nearly four decades, was damaged last week when unknown vandals stole it and tossed it off a bridge along Duluth’s Seven Bridges Road. It smashed against rocks beneath the bridge. On Monday, a team of airline mechanics from Duluth picked up the battered bird and took it to their repair facilities. Volunteering their own time and using donated materials from the airline, the mechanics hope to have the bird back on its perch along Minnesota Highway 61 within two or three weeks. The bird is being rebuilt with the same state-of-the-art fiberglass and composite material found on the belly of DC-9 aircraft, said Dave Wasilowski, an operations manager at the maintenance base. “”I’ve got more guys volunteering to help than I know what to do with,”” Wasilowski said. “”That’s a landmark chicken. It’s just something we all wanted to do. No one wants any recognition for it. We just thought it was something nice we could do for the community.”” The case of the kidnapped chicken is still under investigation. Two Harbors Police Chief Rick Hogenson said Wednesday he was awaiting evidence gathered and a statement taken by a police officer in Duluth. “”We’ve saved evidence from the chicken for lab analysis later on,”” Hogenson said. “”Maybe with that and with that statement we can turn the corner on this thing and make an arrest. “”There was a lot of damage done,”” the chief said. “”That’s why this is getting so much of our attention. It’s not like someone just left it in the ditch to be found later.””

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13cm Long Aircraft from Korea

5th May 2003 0 comments

A micro-compact aircraft, as small as the human hand, has recently been developed in Korea. The aircraft can fly for 15 minutes and transmit images in real time from the air. Professor Yoon Gwang-joon and his research team in the Space and Aircraft Department at Kon-kuk University gave a demonstration at Seoul Olympic Park on May 2. His team showed pictures of Park from the air, photographed for 5 minutes by the specially-built camera fitted on the 13 cm long aircraft. The aircraft has been in development for the past three years at a cost of 800 million won supported by a research grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology. The team won a prize in the International Micro Compact Aircraft Competition for their aircraft, which stayed in the air the second longest period of time. The aircraft is 13.4cm long and weighs 60g. It can transmit images in real time from the compact camera, for about 15 minutes within a 0.8 km radius. In order to reduce the weight of the aircraft to less than 100g, the team used hybrid materials for the structure including polymer film and balsawood as well as hyper-lightweight Kevlar fiber composite material. The aircraft can fly at high speeds based on the 15,000 rpm propeller, operated by the 10g compact motor which is powered by the 10g lithium polymer battery. This is the same battery used for cellular phones. “Micro-compact aircraft development started in the military for the purpose of reconnaissance on squads or platoons from the 1990s. The technology is mostly for military purposes. Recently though, this type of aircraft has been developed for civilian uses such as monitoring traffic or for entertainment, etc.”

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Foam Matrix Partners Future Combat Systems Proposal

5th May 2003 0 comments

Foam Matrix Inc has been selected as the structures partner by the DRS Technologies and Lockheed Martin Company Future Combat Systems (FCS) team. In this role, Foam Matrix will produce the fuselage and wings for the team¹s proposed Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle (TUAV) to meet the requirements of the DARPA/U.S. Army FCS program. During the development and tooling phase, Foam Matrix will work as a member of an integrated product team with the DRS Technologies/Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs (ADP) team. Future Combat Systems is a joint program of DARPA and the U.S. Army. FCS will develop network centric concepts for a multi-mission combat system that will be overwhelmingly lethal, strategically deployable, self-sustaining and highly survivable in combat through the use of an ensemble of manned and unmanned ground and air platforms. The TUAV will be the primary eye-in-the-sky vehicle. Foam Matrix was selected by the DRS Technologies/Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company team because of the company¹s unique history of designing robust, low-cost structures using its patented Foam Matrix Core (FMC) System(tm). “”Foam Matrix has demonstrated the capabilities of the FMC system in other programs with Lockheed Martin,”” said Steve Ericson, Director Advanced Prototyping Center, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. “”The performance/price aspects of this technology make it very attractive.”” “”We¹re particularly pleased that this prestigious team respects our credibility in lightweight, high-performance structures,”” added Foam Matrix president Kent Sherwood. “”We¹re delighted to demonstrate that our FMC system allows us to produce these structures at a cost-level that would be very difficult to duplicate using any other process.”” If the team¹s proposal is successful, Foam Matrix will supply the wings and fuselage with all fasteners, ready for power plant and electronics modules to be quickly fitted in order for the aircraft to become operational.

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US Reinforced Plastics Market to reach $6.5 billion in 2007

5th May 2003 0 comments

Reinforced plastics demand in the US is projected to grow 2.5 percent annually to over four billion pounds in 2007, valued at $6.5 billion. This will create a market for 2.8 billion pounds of resin and 1.3 billion pounds of reinforcements. Gains will result from performance and cost advantages over metal, wood and glass in a variety of applications. Best opportunities are anticipated in producer durable equipment and construction markets based on needs for higher performing, cost effective materials. Constraining further reinforced plastic advances will be lackluster activity in motor vehicle and marine uses. In 2002, Reinforced Plastics demand was 3.7 billion pounds, with the following breakdown: – Construction 32% – Motor Vehicles 31% – Producer Durable Equipment 13% – Marine 9% – Consumer Durables &Other Markets 15% Thermosets to remain dominant reinforced resin Thermoset resins will remain dominant and account for 64 percent of all reinforced plastics demand in 2007. Reinforced thermoset demand, consisting largely of unsaturated polyester, will increase 2.3 percent annually through 2007 to 2.7 billion pounds. Reinforced polyester exhibits good weathering properties and heat and corrosion resistance, with good strength-to-weight ratios. It can be fabricated into a variety of rigid products, including boat hulls, storage tanks, shower enclosures, electrical components and pipe. Other rein-forced thermosets include epoxy, phenolic, polyurethane and melamine. Thermoplastics to grow the fastest Reinforced thermoplastics will exhibit more rapid growth based on customer demands for higher performing and more aesthetic products. Polypropylene, thermoplastic polyester, nylon and polycarbonate will present the best growth opportunities due to their suitability for a diverse range of applications. Glass fibers will remain the leading reinforcement material due to their low cost and excellent performance. However, demand for carbon and other fibers will expand at a faster pace due to price reductions and greater use in sporting goods, aircraft and other uses which require heightened levels of rigidity strength, heat resistance or electrical properties. Construction, motor vehicles to remain top markets Construction and motor vehicles will remain the leading markets for reinforced plastics, together accounting for 63 percent of the total in 2007. Construction applications such as tanks and panels will be driven by the lower maintenance and corrosion resistant properties of reinforced products. Motor vehicle growth will be fueled by needs to reduce vehicular weight and maintenance, yet be severely constrained by high cyclical production levels in 2002 and competition from light weight steel. Best opportunities, however, are expected for producer durable equipment such as industrial machinery, computers and office equipment in light of needs to improve productivity and utilize the latest technologies. Study coverage Details on these and other key findings are available in a new Freedonia study, Reinforced Plastics, priced at $3900. It presents US historical data (1992, 1997, 2002) data plus forecasts to 2007 and 2012 by resin (e.g., unsaturated polyester, epoxy, polypropylene, polyester, nylon); by reinforcing material (glass, carbon and aramid fibers); and by market (e.g., construction, motor vehicles, producer durable equipment). The market environment analyzes developments in key end use markets such as construction and motor vehicles, and includes a discussion of competitive materials and recycling. The industry structure highlights factors such as merger and acquisition activity and research and development efforts. Profiles for 44 industry participants are also included.

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Fighter Joins Supercar Battle

5th May 2003 0 comments

The Bristol Fighter, a 200mph British supercar first unveiled in 1999 is now ready. The chassis, with its Chrysler Viper 8 litre V10 mounted in front, is a strong steel structure to which a body of lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre is fitted. The car weighs about the same as a Ferrari 360 Modena but Bristol says that, with 525bhp, it will be significantly faster. It expects a maximum speed of 210mph and 0 to 60mph acceleration in 4sec. The Fighter is a compact coupé the size of a Porsche 911. It is functional rather than pretty, but Bristol, which grew out of the aircraft company of the same name, insists aerodynamic efficiency has been put ahead of other considerations. Bristol is very secretive about sales figures but claims to already have orders for the first year’s production of 20 Fighters at £229,125 apiece.

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Marineware Introduce Core-Cell

5th May 2003 0 comments

Marineware Ltd have introduced Core-Cell structural foam into their range of Composite materials currently available. Core-Cell is designed specifically for the marine industry, and uses SAN polymers rather than conventional PVC formulae. Core-Cell claims to offer better handling and machining characteristics, surpassing the stiffness, impact strength and heat distortion temperatures of PVC. Core-Cell does not out-gas and is compatible with all resin types. Various densities are available to meet the performance and strength demands of different projects, and Core-Cell is type approved by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Lloyds Register of Shipping, Germanischer Lloyds, and the DNV. The two Assa Abloy entries were designed by Farr Yacht Design and built by Green Marine in the UK using female moulds to keep hull weight to a minimum. “”Amer Sports Too”” is a Bruce Farr design and is crewed by an all female team. “”Amer Sports One”” has an all male crew, and is designed by German Frers, Jr. Both yachts were built by Composite Works in France using Core-Cell. Core-Cell was also used on the Volvo boats because of its toughness and structural integrity.

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Carbon Nanotubes Emit Light

5th May 2003 0 comments

Scientists at IBM Research have discovered a new way to get carbon nanotubes to emit light, a breakthrough that might one day lead to advances in fiber-optic technology. At the University of Toronto, meanwhile, researchers have managed to produce light by injecting electrons into a polymer embedded with “”quantum dots,”” microscopic crystals made of lead sulfide. Polymers are being used in research into processor, display and other technologies. Carbon nanotubes and, to a lesser degree, nanocrystals have become scientific celebrities in recent years because of their unusual electrical, thermal and mechanical properties. Both have emerged as candidates to replace silicon and metal in chip manufacturing a decade or two down the road. In the more immediate future, nanotubes could be employed to create corrosion-resistant paint or to improve fuel cells or batteries. The research from the two institutions essentially points the way toward another potential application: generating light. Generating light is not easy or cheap. Current optical equipment does the job, but optical components are difficult to manufacture and as a result expensive. By contrast, semiconductors can be mass-produced cheaply. Unfortunately, researchers have tried, and failed, to get silicon to generate light effectively. “”Our work represents a step towards the integration of many fiber-optic communications devices on one chip,”” Ted Sargent, the Nortel Networks – Canada Research Chair in Emerging Technologies in the University of Toronto’s electrical and computer engineering department, said in a statement. “”With this light source combined with fast electronic transistors, light modulators, light guides and detectors, the optical chip is in view.”” Besides its potential use in chips, fiber-optic technology also is already used for transmitting information across long-distance telephone lines and in other networks. It carries more information than traditional copper wires, but it’s also more expensive and difficult to install. “”The commercial applications will be far away, but definitely this has a potential for great applications”” for bridging the optical and electrical fields in communications equipment, David Tomanek, a professor of physics at Michigan State, said of the IBM results. Tomanek is also currently performing nanotube research with NEC. “”Japan is very interested in optoelectronics,”” he added. “”The more near-term application for optical is probably for sensors,”” said Josh Wolfe, a managing partner at Lux Capital, a venture firm concentrating on nanotechnology. Like everyone else, Wolfe cautioned that commercial applications remain a long way off, but said that researchers are making fairly impressive progress in characterizing the properties of nanotubes. In IBM’s research, the light appears when a negative charge is applied to one end of the nanotube and a positive charge to the other. Light is created in this manner now in fiber-optic equipment, but the components have to be “”doped,”” or chemically coated, so that the opposing charges will meet. By contrast, nanotubes are so small–measuring about a nanometer, or a billionth of a meter, in diameter–that they are considered one-dimensional objects. No doping is required. “”When electrons and holes (positive charges) come together, they neutralize each other and become light,”” said Phaedon Avouris, manager of nanoscale science and technology at IBM Research. “”A nanotube is the ultimate in confinement. If you place the electrons in one side and the holes on another, they will find each other.”” The light emitted by the nanotubes featured a wavelength of 1.5 microns, the same wavelength used in fiber optics today, noted Avouris. That means arrays of light-generating nanotubes have the potential to be used inside fiber-optic cables to transmit data. The University of Toronto prototype works in a similar fashion. Nanocrystals measuring about 5 nanometers wide sit in depressions (relatively speaking) in a polymer sheet. When electrons enter the polymer, they fall into the depressions and create light at wavelengths ranging from 1.3 microns to 1.6 microns, or millionths of a meter. Last year, researchers at Rice University showed how nanotubes can emit light. In Rice’s experiments, the nanotubes were suspended in a liquid irradiated with a laser. In other words, the nanotubes were re-emitting externally created light. The results at Rice (which actually makes the nanotubes IBM uses in its experiments) were an important step, Avouris said. Further details on IBM’s research results will come out in an edition of the journal Science on Friday. The University of Toronto published its work in the journal Applied Physics Letters. While commercialization remains to be seen, the results show the potential versatility of nanotechnology. “”The whole thing is science at this point. We are evaluating how far things can go,”” Avouris said about carbon nanotubes. “”(But) so far, everything is working perfectly.”” Other nanotechnology research areas under way at IBM include developing new ways to manufacture carbon nanotubes and creating dense storage devices.

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Space contract for Galway company

6th May 2003 0 comments

CTL Tastail Teóranta has been awarded a major contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) to evaluate new carbon fibre reinforced materials for the next generation of space launchers. The company employs 10 people at the Údarás na Gaeltachta Industrial Estate at Baile an tSagairt, Spiddal. Another three people are employed at a sister company, Ábhair Cumasc Teoranta, at the same location, who will also participate in the ESA project. The European Space Agency contract is to evaluate and test new manufacturing methods for advanced carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites. The aim of the project is to reduce the cost of manufacturing the large liquid fuel tanks employed in space launchers such as the Ariane programme. The contract consists of composite laminate manufacturing and mechanical and physical testing, all of which will be carried out at the company premises in Spiddal. The new thermoplastic composite materials being evaluated can be processed faster, and in a more flexible manner than existing materials, as well as having attractive mechanical and environmental properties. Managing Director, Dr. Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, welcomed the ESA contract as firmly establishing CTL Tastáil Teo. as one of the leading research and development companies in Europe in the area of lightweight, high performance, carbon fibre reinforced materials. Mr. John Lowery, Údarás na Gaeltachta Deputy Chief Executive with responsibility for Industrial Development said, “”The European Space Agency contract is a recognition of CTL’s high-quality expertise as a test laboratory. Enterprises such as CTL are the bridge between the traditional/conventional industries which are in decline and the modern/new-age enterprises which we are endeavouring to attract to the Gaeltacht””. Mr. Tony Mc Donald of Enterprise Ireland, with responsibility for European Space Agency Programmes, said, “”the placing of the contract by the European Space Agency is an endorsement of the high technical standards attained by the company. CTL is yet another example of emerging Irish innovative technology companies developing in the aerospace sector with the active support of the European Space Agency and Enterprise Ireland.””

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UK Industry Study

8th May 2003 0 comments

NetComposites, in conjunction with NPL, has published their Foresight Study and Competitive Analysis of the UK Composites Sector, undertaken for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

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