Features

Solar energy without subsidies? - organic photovoltaic solar cells

The EU aims to meet 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. Organic photovoltaics — solar cells made from plastics — could be one promising avenue. They take the form of a flexible, light film that can be easily attached to other materials and adapted to different colours and designs. This has led to potential commercial applications in the construction industry, where plastic cells could be used as a thin film on roofs, windows and facades. Moreover, they could feature in foldable chargers for mobile phones and other gadgets on car roofs, or in clothes.

In the pipeline - Ultrasonic phased array non-destructive testing of polyethylene pipes

The increase in the use of plastic as a pipe material to transport gas and water has been attributed to factors such as corrosion resistance, strength-to-weight ratio, lightness, flexibility and cost. One joining process for pipes is electrofusion welding. But defects can occur due to poor practices. Polytec, a project from the European Commission and The Welding Institute (TWI), based in Cambridge, UK, has resulted in in-manufacture, online, non-destructive, quality control of polyethylene electrofusion joints using ultrasonic phased arrays.

Rubber revolution - Chronicling the beginnings of the rubber industry

Vulcanised rubber is one of the most widely used and important materials. In 1857, a book by Thomas Hancock introduced the manufacturing process to Europe. He worked closely with Charles Macintosh and studied samples of Charles Goodyear’s vulcanised rubber.

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