Automation by the Numbers
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will set new nationwide emission standards for makers of polyvinyl chloride (plastic PVC) under a settlement with environmental groups announced last month. The Associated Press reported the EPA has agreed to set emission standards by 29 July 2011 for PVC manufacturers as part of a settlement with three environmental groups that sued EPA last year for failing to impose emission standards on PVC manufacturers in Louisiana. There are about 24 plants across the U.S. that make PVC, which is used in a variety of products, including wire insulation, building materials, and medicine containers.
China’s manufacturing sector expanded for the eighth straight month in October and at its fastest pace in 18 months, according to the results of an industry survey released in November, adding to signs that the economy continues to recover. The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers’ index climbed to 55.2 in October from 54.3 in September. The PMI has been above the boom-bust line of 50, which indicates the companies in the survey are reporting growth from the previous month—since March.
Local Motors is gearing up to produce its first vehicle, the Rally Fighter—an industry-first vehicle that utilizes micro-factory retailing. Interested buyers pay $99 for a place in line to purchase it. The company is based on a “micro-factories” idea, where buyers can watch and even participate in making their car. Local Motors made its official debut in March 2008, with a web site that calls for designers to submit sketches of their dream cars. When production starts on the Rally Fighter in June 2010, buyers will be invited to the company’s headquarters in Wareham, Mass., to help build the car. The eventual price tag? $50,000.
Researchers at Stanford University and Hanyang University in Ansan, Korea, have shown silicon nanotube electrodes can store 10 times more charge than conventional graphite electrodes used in lithium-ion batteries, which could help electric vehicles run longer between charges. Researchers are developing the nanotube electrodes in collaboration with LG Chem, a Korean company that makes lithium-ion batteries, including those used in the Chevy Volt. The new battery electrodes are anodes and can store more energy because they absorb much more lithium when the battery is charged.