Archive for September, 2013
Reduced Speed Ahead


Like many other organizations across the nation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) expresses concerns about the pipeline of college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. As part of an effort to advance STEM in classrooms and inspire young students to pursue STEM careers, USACE has launched a new partnership with the Department of Defense.
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Cement plant. Credit: Myrabella.

Cement plant. Credit: Myrabella.

Skyonic Corp. of Austin, Texas, has just broken ground on a new facility in San Antonio that is designed to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions from a cement factory and produce chemical products to be sold commercially. Called Capitol SkyMine, the new plant will be “the first commercial-scale facility of its kind that offers a way for emitters to deal with their CO2 and SOx-NOx emissions and do so profitably instead of as a cost,” I was told by Stacy MacDiarmid, communications director for the company.

The Capitol SkyMine facility is being retrofitted onto the 65-year-old Capitol Aggregates Cement Plant owned by owned by Zachry Corp., a construction and materials company in San Antonio. Although the new carbon capture plant is the first of its kind to be built at commercial scale, MacDiarmid told me “we’ve already run a few small-scale pilots.” Read more


Manufacturing education is imperative to the strength of American industry and the restoration of  its outdated image. Initiatives to educate the future workforce come in many forms, from high-tech classroom learning to companies opening their doors to students during such events as next week’s national Manufacturing Day (MFG Day).
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factorypollutionA report released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides a stark new picture of global warming’s effects on the environment. It also includes a revised “carbon budget” that could have dramatic ramifications for the global economy.

The carbon budget is the amount of carbon dioxide that climate scientists say humans can emit and still keep global warming below 2°C — a target that nearly every country on Earth, including the United States, has agreed to meet. IPCC has set the world’s carbon budget at 1 trillion tons.  Read more

Not quite. Credit: Nac Datta.

Magnesium was first used in cars as part of the powertrain for the VW Beetle in the 1930s. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Magnesium was first used in cars as part of the powertrain for the VW Beetle in the 1930s. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

In this final installment in our series examining various lightweight materials for cars, we look at the use of magnesium, which is gaining increased attention from carmakers. In part one, we examined new advances in steel and their potential for weight reduction. The following week we looked at the benefits of  aluminum. Last week, we explored carbon fiber composites, also known as carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP).

The use of magnesium in automobiles goes back to the 1920s when it was used in racing cars because of its high strength and light weight. Magnesium has the highest strength to weight ratio, or specific strength, of all common structural metals. It is lighter than aluminum by a third and considered particularly easy to work with, both in machining as well as die-casting applications, though not so good for roll-forming.

Magnesium is also valued for its specific damping capability, which makes it well-suited for speaker diaphragms and acoustic cable shielding.

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