Composites Manufacturing has highlighted six composite research projects at Rice University, Clemson University, Bath University, West Virginia University, University of Stuttgart and Western Washington University.

Advancing the composites industry hinges on fostering ground-breaking ideas. While many companies have dedicated research and development facilities, universities cater to innovation: The brightest students and professors from across disciplines team up in state-of-the-art labs and dedicate their careers to problem-solving and invention. University research teams around the world are pushing the boundaries of what we know about composites and how we can use them to improve our lives.

Composites Manufacturing has highlighted six projects conducted in three countries that could greatly impact end-user markets and composite materials. Some projects are in the early stages, while others have already earned regional and national recognition. These stories are a testament to the rapid growth and future of the composites industry.

Bio-blades Rooted in Research
aerodynamic shells wind blades rooftop turbine University Stuttgart

The aerodynamic shells of the wind blades on this rooftop turbine at the University of Stuttgart are made from Biotex Flax, a unidirectional yarn from Composites Evolution. The flax fiber has a tensile modulus of 50 gigapascals (GPa) and a tensile strength of 500 megapascals (MPa).

Project: Biocomposite wind turbine blades
School: University of Stuttgart
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
Principal Investigators: Jan Anger and Martin Hofsaess

The natural fiber composites market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.2 percent by 2019, according to the Global Natural Fiber Composites Market 2014-2019 report published in June. A team of researchers from the University of Stuttgart in Germany are sure to contribute to this rise.

The team, comprising students from the university’s Stuttgart Wind Energy (SWE) at the Institute of Aircraft Design, set out to manufacture natural fiber reinforced wind blades for a 1kW turbine in 2012. “We wanted to try new, more sustainable materials and see if it was possible to achieve the needed strength and stiffness for small turbine blades,” says Jan Anger, Dipl.-Ing., a research assistant at the university.