Clemson researcher gets $2M for composites project

by Staff

A Clemson University professor, who is a veteran composite materials researcher, has received $2 million to join in a project aiming to lower the cost of lighter weight materials used in automobile and airplane parts. After more than three decades creating composite materials that are stronger and lighter than steel, making them less pricey is a new challenge for Amod Ogale, a university statement said.

Ogale’s latest round of funding is part of a collaboration with the Center for Composite Materials at the University of Delaware. The center, which is leading the research, has received $14.9 million from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency for the Tailorable Feedstock and Forming Program.

Amod Ogale, director of the Clemson University Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films and Dow Chemical Professor of Chemical Engineering, has received $2 million to join a project aiming to lower the cost of lighter-weight composite materials. (Photo/Clemson University)

Amod Ogale, director of the Clemson University Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films and Dow Chemical Professor of Chemical Engineering, has received $2 million to join a project aiming to lower the cost of lighter-weight composite materials. (Photo/Clemson University)

Composite materials are strands of carbon fibers that resemble string when wrapped on a spool. When glued together with special polymers, they form very strong materials that can be fashioned into a wide-range of products, from car and airplane parts to helmets and golf clubs.

Researchers want to create a new type of composite material they will call Tuff, which stands for tailorable universal feedstock for forming.

Ogale, as director of the Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films and Dow Chemical Professor of Chemical Engineering, plans to use his expertise working with carbon fibers on a microscopic level. The diameter of each carbon fiber is one-tenth that of a human hair, yet the fiber is three times stronger than steel.

Ogale joins center Director Jack Gillespie and researchers from Drexel University and Virginia Tech.

“It’s an honor to be part of such a talented team,” Ogale said in the statement. “Carbon fibers are commercially used in high-performance aircraft applications, including some in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. However, such fibers are also very expensive, so there is significant interest in reducing their cost.”

The new material could provide a less costly replacement for small metal parts, researchers said.

Rob Adkinson, Tuff program manager at the University of Delaware, said “bypassing all of the manufacturing problems associated with advanced composites, our approach will allow us for the first time to make composite parts having aerospace properties at automotive prices.”

Ogale is a Fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers and has been internationally recognized for his contributions to carbon fibers and reinforced plastics. He received the 2013 Graffin Lecturer Award from the American Carbon Society.

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