Seven new research and innovation projects that will develop new composite materials that can advance component manufacture in a number of global industries, such as aerospace, automotive and renewable energy generation, have been announced.
Composite materials are important to advancements in these industries because they combine the strength of fibres with the resilience of plastics. Commonly used in the aerospace sector, composites are now becoming more widely used in areas like construction (to make whole bridges, for example) and for lighter, larger and stronger wind turbines. The projects are in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) and their partner companies and universities in the US.
The projects being funded are led by innovative UK composites producers, working in partnership with universities and leading research and technology organisations such as TWI and HVM Catapult Centres such as the National Composites Centre and the Advanced Manufacturing Research CentreSimon Edmonds, Innovate UK’s, Deputy Executive Chair and Chief Business Officer
The projects are funded in the UK by the Fund for International Collaboration (FIC), which is designed to support the UK to form new and strengthen existing, bilateral partnerships for research and innovation with leading nations with a reputation for excellence. US funding has been provided by the US Department of Energy, State governments and private industry.
The seven projects, including their respective UK and USA partners, are in brief:
- CADFEC: Fibre Engineered Composites, for car components: Aston Martin and Expert Tooling and Automation, based in Coventry. U.S. partners include DowAksa, Dow Chemical, and Purdue University
- TACOMA: X-ray scanning for high-speed inspection of Automotive composite parts: TWI, Cambridge. U.S. partners include American Chemistry Council and Michigan State University
- HIPPAC: Advanced composites for stronger, lighter wind-turbine blades: Fibreforce Composites, Runcorn; Brunel University. U.S. partners include National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, GE Energy, and Montefibre
- FibreSteer: Fibre shaping for stronger aerospace components: iComat (a University of Bristol spin-out company), National Composites Centre (part of HVM Catapult) and Airbus. U.S. partners include Airbus Americas and University of Dayton Research Institute
- FibreLoop: Re-cycling carbon fibre production waste into new high-value components: NetComposites, Chesterfield; Far-UK, Nottingham and the Advanced Materials Research Centre (part of HVM Catapult). U.S. partners include Vartega, BASF, Michelman, and Michigan State University
- ENACT: Polymer layering for ‘overmoulding’, allowing more sophisticated design for complex parts: Surface Generation, Rutland, and Nottingham University. U.S. partner is Michigan State University
- TexTape: Trying to substantially reduce the costs of carbon fibre thermoplastics: Composites Evolution, Chesterfield, and National Composites. US partner is Oak Ridge National Laboratory.