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NIST Investigators Say WTC Steel Met Standards

A new report from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) suggests that the steel beams inside the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers met or were stronger than design standard requirements. Officials have tested some of the 236 pieces of steel from the debris, and while they maintain the report is preliminary and more testing is planned, they are confident that these initial assessments will be confirmed. The steel beams used to build the WTC were typical of materials in the 1960s when the towers were erected. The steel testing is part of NIST’s $16 million, two-year federal building and fire safety investigation into the structural failure and subsequent collapse of WTC Buildings 1 and 2 and WTC Building 7. The investigation will focus on the building construction, the materials used and all of the technical conditions that contributed to the outcome of the WTC disaster. In coming months, NIST will re-create sections of the building’s floor trusses and conduct large-scale fire endurance tests to determine how the floors of the towers responded to the twin stresses of impact by a jet plane and a continuing fire.

Ceramic Matrix Composite Coordination Group

The Mil Handbook-17 Ceramic Matrix Composite Coordination Group will hold a three-day meeting in Charleston, S.C., Oct. 29-31. The purpose of the meeting is to review progress in gathering information for the CMC Handbook, to provide a status/update on new directions in CMC technology, to develop near-term action items, and to promote participation in handbook development. The meeting is organized into two parts — technology review and working group sessions. The technology review will focus on new applications for CMCs in areas such as high performance brakes, electronics, and the nuclear industry. The working groups will cover the four handbook sections — design, testing, data collection and materials/processing. For further information contact Steve Gonczy, Gateway Materials Technology, Mt. Prospect, Ill. (phone: 847/870-1621).

New NIST Facility Soon Will Be ‘Reflecting’ on Safer Signs

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has developed a way to accurately and reliably measure how light reflects off stop signs and other road markings. Road signs and markings are designed to be visible at night by retroreflectivity — that is, they reflect some of the light emitted by a vehicle’s headlights back toward the driver’s eyes. However, measurements of retroreflectivity have varied so much among different devices and laboratories that federal transportation officials have been unable to define minimum standards for this Congressionally mandated characteristic. Recently, NIST established a facility — funded by the Transportation Research Board of the National Cooperative Research Program — that resolves numerous measurement problems and improves accuracy. Inside the facility, one finds a long black tunnel with a set of tracks on which sits an instrumented platform. Signs or materials are mounted on the platform, which can be moved three to 30 metres from a light source at one end of the tunnel. Using custom software, scientists precisely control all of the components and measure the characteristics of light reflected from the sign to a detector located close to the source. NIST expects that the facility will begin providing calibration services early in 2004.

International Coatings Expo

The International Coatings Expo will be held Nov. 12-14 in Philadelphia, Pa. ICE 2003 celebrates the newest innovations that have revolutionized the paint and coatings, printing inks, adhesives, sealants and caulks, and construction chemical industries. The expo will feature the products and services of over 250 supplier companies, featuring the latest in raw materials, laboratory apparatus and testing equipment, production equipment, and services. In addition to the opportunities presented at the Expo, a variety of educational programs will focus on the theme “Spirit of Innovation.”

New DOC Position to Aid U.S. Manufacturing Sector

The new position of assistant secretary for manufacturing and services position has been created within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The new assistant secretary will help address the competitive challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. manufacturing sector.

The Gift of Chemistry

Dow Chemical Co. has donated an extensive collection of infrared spectra chemical data to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The data will be evaluated by NIST for incorporation into its Chemistry WebBook, an online resource that 600,000 users rely on annually for a wide range of research and development applications and educational purposes. The WebBook provides free access to an array of chemical and physical data collections distributed through NIST’s Standard Reference Data Program. The Dow infrared spectra were collected over a 40-year period to characterize and identify numerous pure chemicals, including many synthesized by Dow experimentally as part of product development efforts or for analysis of process measurements. The collection will add to the size, breadth and value of the WebBook, helping scientists to better understand and make predictions about many different materials in the future.

Need for Testing and Certification Services in Iraq

The U.S. Department of Commerce is seeking organizations interested in providing testing and certification services in Iraq. The DOC has been assigned to help the Iraqis reestablish the Central Organization for Standardization and Quality Control (COSQC). The COSQC has primary responsibility for ensuring standards for goods, both domestic and imported, are met. Unfortunately, the COSQC has been heavily affected by 12 years of sanctions and by looting after the fall of the Saddam regime. Most of their lab equipment has been stolen, destroyed or damaged, and some of what is left is 20 years old or more. Hamrock is looking for the names and qualifications of testing and certification organizations that might be able to provide immediate, on-the-ground assistance in Iraq. Of particular interest are testing and certification bodies capable of testing a variety of food products and/or medical devices and pharmaceuticals. If your organization has the capability to provide such services and is interested in learning more about Iraq’s needs and requirements, please contact Susan Hamrock, senior liaison to COSQC (phone in Iraq: 781/280-5891; or //

Copyright 2003, ASTM