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Fiber

Some residents of Minnesota received a holiday gift this December – the fastest home internet speed available just about anywhere in the world. US Internet, based in the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka, announced this week that it has begun rolling out 10 gigabit per second internet access, ten times faster than Google Fiber's much-publicized gigabit connections, and similar planned networks in the UK. Read More
The humble milkweed may be a weed to most, but a company out of Granby, Quebec, is milking the plant for all it’s worth by developing a product for cleaning up oil slicks on land and water from milkweed fibers. Due to the fibers’ hollow shape – a unique feature in nature – and its naturally hydrophobic tendency, they repel water while absorbing more than four times more oil than the same amount of polypropylene materials currently used for spills. Read More
Copper electrical wiring may soon be facing some stiff competition – or actually, some very stretchy competition. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University and Japan's Shinshu University recently created a "super-stretchable" conductive yarn made from graphene. Read More
A team of researchers working at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology claim to have developed a way to make cellulose fibers stronger than steel on a strength-to-weight basis. In what is touted as a world first, the team from the institute's Wallenberg Wood Science Center claim that the new fiber could be used as a biodegradable replacement for many filament materials made today from imperishable substances such as fiberglass, plastic, and metal. And all this from a substance that requires only water, wood cellulose, and common table salt to create it. Read More
Scientists at the Fudan University in Shanghai, China, have developed a high-performance Li-ion battery made of carbon nanotube fiber yarns. Roughly one 1 mm in diameter, the fiber shaped lithium-ion batteries are reported lightweight enough to create weavable and wearable textile batteries that could power various devices. The researchers say that the yarn is capable of delivering nearly 71 mAh/g of power, and can also be woven into existing textiles to create novel electronic fabrics. Read More
An international team of researchers has developed a supercapacitor composed of graphene and carbon nanotubes that is claimed flexible enough to be woven into clothing and potentially powerful enough to offer a real alternative to batteries for use in portable devices. Capable of being charged and discharged in excess of 10,000 cycles, the new supercapacitor also promises to be significantly lighter, faster to charge, and more robust than current battery technology. Read More

Usually when you hear about wood being used in a car's interior, it's a fancy solid hardwood used to class up the dashboard. On Ford's 2014 Lincoln MKX, however, a relatively new wood-based composite material will be used in place of heavier, less eco-friendly fiberglass. Read More

As evidenced by our friend carbon fiber, composite materials get a big boost in strength when fibers are part of the recipe. Examples include composites made with plastic, wood pulp, and flax fibers. Husband-and-wife design team Jen Carlson and Josh Shear have taken this concept to a funky new level, by using shredded old blue jeans to create a denim fiber composite known as Denimite. Read More
The Forest Products Laboratory of the US Forest Service has opened a US$1.7 million pilot plant for the production of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) from wood by-products materials such as wood chips and sawdust. Prepared properly, CNCs are stronger and stiffer than Kevlar or carbon fibers, so that putting CNC into composite materials results in high strength, low weight products. In addition, the cost of CNCs is less than ten percent of the cost of Kevlar fiber or carbon fiber. These qualities have attracted the interest of the military for use in lightweight armor and ballistic glass (CNCs are transparent), as well as companies in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, and medical industries. Read More

Should you rip it off fast or slow? Researchers at Penn State may have found the elusive third, painless option. Professor Greg Ziegler and research assistant Lingyan Kong have developed a process that spins starch into fine strands, creating fibers that could be woven into low-cost toilet paper, napkins and biodegradable bandages that don't need to be ripped off at all. Read More

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