MAG Composites Institute Innovations in Research Grants

The Philadelphia University MAG Composites Institute was launched in 2012 as a center of excellence in composites, with generous support from MAG IAS.  Its primary mission is to provide composites education and composites research capabilities.  As part of this work, this year we will have an internal research grant program for composites research.  The purpose of this initiative is to foster composites research through the Institute, and create platforms for future externally funded research. 

We received eleven proposals for composites research.  This was a high level of response, and a wonderful reflection of the intensity and diversity of interest in research across the campus. Work will be performed over the 2013-14 academic year.

We were able to allocate funding to three proposals: 

1. Tailored material properties through selective fiber deposition

There is growing emphasis on lightweight materials in high volume, cost-sensitive energy applications such as automotive and renewable energy generation. Fiber-reinforced composites offer significant weight reduction potential, with glass fiber composites already widely adopted. Carbon fiber composites deliver the greatest performance benefits, but their high cost has inhibited widespread adoption. This project will demonstrate that hybrid carbon-glass solutions can realize most of the benefits of carbon fiber composites at much lower cost. 

Principal Investigator:  Prof. Christopher M Pastore

2. Development of Novel Building Components Using Natural Resins and Fibrous Reinforcing Materials 

There are a variety of wastes materials, such as chicken feathers, flax, and hemp that are by-products of industrial processing that currently have no viable uses, and as such, are often land filled.  This research aims to produce sustainable composites using epoxies made from natural sources and waste materials as the fibrous reinforcements.  These materials will be characterized to determine their mechanical, physical, and chemical properties.  Once these materials have been analyzed they will be examined to determine their suitability in a variety of sustainable composites for architectural applications. This research will open opportunities for the development of new building components such as external single and double layers building skins, solar responsive shading control, day lighting control, ceiling systems, countertops, flooring, and wallboards. 

Principal Investigators:  Prof. Brian George and Prof. Alex Messinger

3. Towards Digital Containerized Factories of Composite Architectural Panels for Complex-shaped Buildings

This research focuses on developing digitally driven manufacturing methods of fiber reinforced sandwich panels for complex-shaped building envelopes. The ultimate goal is to define processes for containerized production units that allow on-site or near-site fabrication. The project team will examine various complex geometries in contemporary buildings, explore digital design and fabrication methods, composite material processing, design and manufacturing. Composite architectural applications combined with containerized fabrication strategies can reduce shipping costs, minimize construction connections, and enhancing overall construction efficiency and building performance. 

Principal Investigators:  Prof. Kihong Ku, Prof. Daniel Chung, Prof. Edgar Stach