GOLDEN, Colo., Jan. 21, 2015 – The Department of Energy and a consortium of 122 companies, nonprofits, and universities including Colorado School of Mines, will invest more than $250 million – $70 million in federal funds and more than $180 million in non-federal matching funds – to launch the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).
Led by the University of Tennessee, IACMI will develop new low-cost, high-speed, and efficient manufacturing and recycling process technologies that will promote widespread use of advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites in wind turbine, automotive, and compressed natural gas applications.
John R. Dorgan, professor of chemical engineering and faculty participant in the Materials Science Program at Mines, is developing new materials for wind turbine blade manufacturing. Wind turbines have become one of the world’s fastest growing markets for plastic composites with each 60 meter blade weighing roughly 10 tons.
Dorgan’s research will focus on specialized thermoplastic technology utilizing ring-opening polymerization. Mines will receive $1 million per year for the next five years making this one of the largest single investigator awards in the school’s history.
Mines will collaborate with partners Johns Mansville, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Colorado State University and others on an initial project, “Thermoplastic Infusion – Enabling Recycling, Reducing Costs, Enhancing Sustainability.” Denver-based Johns Manville, a Berkshire-Hathaway corporation, is a global supplier of glass fiber for composite markets. Dorgan has been awarded a special Collaborative Appointment at NREL due to his extensive interactions with this important DOE laboratory.
“Thermoplastic use reduces weight and costs, enables the production of segmented blades, and facilitates recycling of the plastic composites at the end of their service life; it creates additional manufacturing jobs in the conversion of the reclaimed materials and significantly improves important sustainability metrics,” Dorgan said.
For more information on the initiative, see the Department of Energy website.
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