Materials World April 2017

A recent Chatham House study arguing that energy policies for biomass are not fit for purpose is the latest in a long line of rebuttals of its green credentials – we cover this report and reactions to it in this issue. It’s a similar debate to the one that has been raging over the sustainability of biofuels for years. Bio-based polymers, too, remain an area of contention, and they happen to be this issue’s material(s) of the month. ‘Bio’ has a certain connotation for the consumer – much like organic crops, it sounds carbon-neutral, sustainable, renewable, green – but the reality, as always is much more complex. 

This will be is the final material of the month article for the time being, but we may return to the series in future. A new series, material marvels, will replace it from May. The series will look at a different feat of engineering, with a focus on materials, each month. We’d love to hear which – from ancient times to the present day – you would like us to feature. 

This month’s features theme is manufacturing, and Dr Martin Jackson, Director of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sheffield, UK, has written the lead article, arguing for a new hybrid solid-state process to support the expansion of titanium alloy use in aircraft. Mining features this month include Michael Schwartz’s piece on the challenges for Indonesia’s mining sector, while Benjamin Bell explains how securing the supply of scandium could help to deliver the next generation of electric cars.

News this issue:

Trump moves to save USA coal

Virtual benefits to materials science

Manufacturing moves to Sheffield

Scientists react to Chatham House biomass rebuttal

Patent of the month: gravity-driven water purification

Borophene’s unlocked potential

60 seconds on…conductive graphene inks

Biomedical use for tick ‘cement’

Hydronium-ion battery is world’s first

Improving uranium extraction

A unique energy system

10 minutes with...Salvatore Grasso and Mike Reece

Features this issue:

Get talking: glass in the circular economy

Get talking: improving the image of shale gas

Fred Starr recollects: bolting for cover

Material of the month: bio-based polymers

The fast-forged process: titanium vs steel

Q&A on new and advanced materials

The science of recycled polymer composites

Leading the charge towards a circular economy

Known unknowns

Print, replace and regenerate

Testing times for Indonesian mining

Q&A – George Roach

Scandium: securing supply

Spotlight: Mining