COLLABORATION

International funding competition launched for disruptive composites projects

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Composite materials are particularly useful in the aerospace and automotive industries.

The composite market looks set to boom in the coming years, bringing not only financial reward for many but leaving a mark of innovation across a number of industries.

If you’re wondering what exactly composites are, you’re not alone. Simply put, they are materials made from two or more different materials that, when combined, possess additional qualities such as extra strength or heat resistance.

The scope for use of composite is immense; improving safety, durability, and longevity of many products and machines.

Carbon-fibre is a prime example of a versatile composite that has transformed industries.

It is particularly useful in automotive and the aerospace industry where it can be used across commercial aircraft, regional aircraft, general aviation, helicopter, and military aircraft.

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The opportunity for growth is substantial, with composite in the global aerospace interior market expected to reach an estimated US$468 million by 2023. According to a report by Lucintel, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) will be 4.7 percent from 2018 to 2023.

This is still early days for the composite sector and the future of composite is still largely unknown. But given the potential, the UK government sees it as an interesting industry worth pursuing further.

The UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, is teaming up with the US-based Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), under UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Funding for International Collaboration programme, to start a funding competition in composite research.

The team have identified several priority areas for more investigation and placed £1.7 million (US$2.15 million) worth of investment up for grabs for international projects to develop disruptive technologies in the global composites market.

The competition opens on 29 May 2019, closing at midday on 21 August 2019, and is open to organisations and research groups of any size.

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The competition will enable collaborative research and development projects between the UK and US within the composites sector that can produce a new product, industrial process or service.

The key difference in this scheme is that the projects must be disruptive.

Innovate UK wants applicants to take technological risks, shake up the composite industry, and reach large international markets.

To limit the scope, they have provided a shortlist of areas or research. These include :

  • sheet moulding compounds reinforced with carbon fibre
  • non-destructive testing tools for automotive manufacturing
  • development of automotive grade carbon fibre-reinforced polymers
  • closing the loop on automotive carbon fibre prepreg manufacturing scrap

The foster the culture of international collaboration, all projects must include a UK business or research group, along with an American project team.