Plastics. Great Future in Plastics
Is a plastic engine a reality? And are we past the point of caring?
Of course, with the success of the Prius and others, hybrid, all-electrics and even fuel-cell vehicles may soon be a common sight on the street -- which raises the question as to why someone is trying to revolutionize the internal-combustion engine by creating it out of high-test plastic.
That, though, is exactly what New Jersey engineer Matti Holtzberg has been trying to do for the better part of 40 years, since he first read about an engine-worthy type of plastic (which nonetheless lasted just 20 minutes into Holtzberg's first test). Henry Ford was also a big fan of the way that plastic parts kept weight and cost down, but even with that luminary's support of the concept -- plus Holtzberg's successful racing of a plastic-engine-equipped Lola race car in the mid '80s -- the idea still stalled at the manufacturing level. Only now, with much of the molten-steel production being contracted out to Asia and India, are manufacturers trying to make a name for themselves with cutting-edge materials and processes.
However, even if some of the 17 licenses that currently use Holtzberg's processes are intended for use in a hybrid vehicle (which, as the name suggests, is a combination of electricity and motor-driven power), won't future technologies like EVs and fuel cells make the internal-combustion engine obsolete?
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