December 2005 Editorial

#regulation #honda #windblades


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Composites Technology sponsored the SPE Automotive Division's 35th Annual Innovation Awards in November. SPE hosted more than 800 guests (some in tuxedos and evening gowns) from all sectors of automotive plastics. It truly was an elegant event. One of our contributing writers, Dale Brosius, was on the 20-member Blue Ribbon panel of judges.

This was an outstanding year for composite materials. If this event is the "Academy Awards" of the plastics industry, then composites won the "Oscar" for "Best Picture" as well as best performer and several other supporting roles (see p. 13). The grand prize went to Honda's in-bed trunk on its premiere 2005 Ridgeline pickup, which CT featured in its April 2005 "Engineering Insights." Of the 11 prizes awarded, composite materials of one form or another were present in six. Yes! Kudos to SPE's Suzanne Cole, conference chair, and Peggy Malnoti, public relations chair, for a job well done.

In this issue of CT, several forms of transportation get the spotlight. Our "Inside Manufacturing" feature (p. 34) looks at one manufacturer's innovative combination of technologies used to make large and especially tough panels for bulk-haul trailer sidewalls. The mass transit feature on p. 28 discusses materials options, old and new, that are available to satisfy demanding flame, smoke and toxicity regulations for public passenger transport. And the "Applications" short feature on p. 33 describes the creative process a long-time manufacturer of fiberglass parts for GM's Corvette used to switch to lighter weight carbon fiber for the 2006 Corvette Z06 while keeping cost in line.

In November, our sister publication High-Performance Composites featured the design story behind the manufacture of the first-ever carbon/epoxy fenders on the new Z06. You can read the story at our Web site.

Thanks to the extension of the Production Tax Credit by the U.S. Congress in August this year, the wind energy market is taking off. U.S. electrical utilities will bring a record 2,500 MW of new wind power online by the end of this year. Wind energy in the rest of the world is projected to keep growing, especially in emerging markets where the need for clean safe energy is greatest. (See the "News" items on p. 11.) That said, there is an even more promising, low-cost source of natural and renewable energy on the threshold of commercialization -- tidal turbines. An early version of the turbine design profiled in this issue's "Engineering Insights," already has produced power at less cost than fossil fuels, and it doesn't depend on weather conditions (check it out on p. 44).

Finally, We're heading into the Christmas postal season. If the weather held and your postman successfully made his rounds, the magazine you're holding arrived before Christmas. In any case, the staff of Composites Technology hopes you have (or had) a joyous holiday and wishes you a profitable new year.