UT partners in advanced composites research through the NSF program

Advanced materials, composites and manufacturing techniques are starting a new industrial revolution, helping the United States to regain its foothold as a global industry leader.

The improvements required to meet evolving needs are often made in academia. At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, several faculty members from several colleges are involved in research and development related to the field.

A recent National Science Foundation grant involving professors from UT’s Tickle College of Engineering will further strengthen this presence through the establishment of the Center for Composite and Hybrid Materials Interfacing.

“With this grant, we will be able to strengthen industry partnerships that advance groundbreaking research and development in advanced composites,” said Uday Vaidya, chairman of the governor of the UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory for Composites Manufacturing. advanced and responsible for the project at UT. “It’s important work because it’s not just research for the sake of discovery, but rather something that has a direct impact on the workforce. “

The grant is part of NSF’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers program, which helps facilitate research between academia and business. Georgia Tech, which runs the entire IUCRC, and the University of Oakland join UT.

Each university has a specific objective within the new center. For UT, the focus will be on advanced manufacturing and materials related to automotive, infrastructure and biomedical applications. IACMI — The Composites Institute is a key partner in fostering industry links with the center and the IUCRC.

Elements of the program will be housed in the Fiber and Composites Manufacturing Facility, Scientific and Technical Research Facility and the Joint Institute of Advanced Materials, culminating in Innovation South, a future building on the Research Park of the University of Tennessee at Cherokee Farm.

In addition to Vaidya, the UT team is made up of Professor Fred N. Peebles and the JIAM Dayakar Penumadu Chair of Excellence, Associate Professor Timothy Truster, Assistant Professor Elizabeth Barker and Assistant Research Professor Dibyendu Mukherjee . Vaidya and Barker work in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, Penumadu and Truster in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Mukherjee in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

The UT team will design, test, characterize and produce materials with hybrid composites and study the joining of dissimilar and soft materials, intelligent processing and the use of recycled materials to make new components.

Their various relationships with ORNL, IACMI — The Composites Institute, the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials and the Manufacturing and Demonstration Facility will also come into play.

“We each have our own experiences and abilities that make a joint effort like this such a promising concept,” Vaidya said. “We unite our respective areas of expertise for the best good in the same way that we hope to unite different materials for the better good. “

While the initial NSF grant to UT is $ 750,000 over five years on a year-to-year renewal basis, the overall goal of the program is to reduce costs, improve production time and limit the variables over a decade. Total funding, however, could increase significantly over the course of the project, as more industrial partners join the center.


Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375, lowen8@utk.edu)

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)

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