“Michigan State University has long set the standard for research in the field of composite materials, and we are proud to be a part of this national endeavor,” said University President Lou Anna K. Simon. Michigan State will join the newly-created, 122 member Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) as a core partner to lead for vehicles research component.
The president chose Michigan State to lead the vehicle research component in part because they are home to two nationally recognized research facilities, the Composite Materials and Structures Center and the Composite Vehicles Research Center. “These two world-class facilities will serve as the foundation for future work in this program,” said Lawrence Drzal, director of the MSU Composite Materials and Structures Center. “We’re confident the IACMI will create new jobs, support the expansion of companies and educate technicians and engineers for these industries.”
Michigan is one of several states chosen to lead a research group. Work will be done on campus as well as in a Detroit lab. As a core partner, MSU will lead research projects with business leaders such as the Ford Motor Co. and the Dow Chemical Co., as well as the University of Michigan as a supporting academic partner.
Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder, lauded the research efforts and the impact on the state. “This award has significant implications on the future of the industry – from the research in the lab to assembly in the plants and applications for vehicles of the future,” Snyder said. “It’s significant for Michigan’s continued leadership in the industry. While the larger auto manufacturers are exploring some of these same material technologies on their own, this grant will help smaller companies with access to the technology, or a place to test innovative ideas.”
Researchers will be developing and studying fiber reinforced polymer composites. Essentially, they are powerful combinations of plastics and fibers, lighter and stronger than steel. The state of Michigan is the ideal location for this research. Material advancements are of paramount importance to the auto industry. Lighter and stronger materials will pave the way for safer, more cost-effective vehicles that will help lower emissions and save consumers money. The applications are many–trains, planes, automobiles, boats, etc. Another industry that will benefit from the research is the energy sector. Lighter, stronger materials will help increase energy efficiency and power production.
The institute is funded by a 70 million dollar, 5-year commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is committing an additional 15 million dollars in funding to support the Michigan research sites.
Photo Credit: 2013 Ford Fusion Lightweight Concept vehicle from the Ford Motor Company