STTR Phase I: Light-Weight Bio-Based Nano-Enhanced SMC Formulations

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Raleigh, NC 27606
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

National Composite Center
2000 Composite Dr
Kettering, OH 45420
Institution POC


This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project shall utilize a multi-organizational team with uniquely experienced and multi-disciplinary personnel to demonstrate the feasibility of a new family of innovative sheet molding compounds (SMCs) that are partially bio-based and have lower density while having similar performance and cost. Kenaf natural fiber will be blended with glass fiber and combined with commercially available soy-oil based resin and select nano-materials to produce new SMC formulations that will be manufactured and validated experimentally. Innovations include 1) chemistry approaches to address the known problems of moisture absorption and strength retention in natural fiber composites and 2) fiber processing methods that will enable the use of standard fiber processing machines and existing SMC manufacturing equipment. The new lighter weight SMCs will find initial application in off-road farm equipment, automotive trunk floors, wheel wells and other non surface-critical components that currently use metal or heavier SMCs. Multiple companies who currently make SMCs and/or SMC components will license the new material technology through the National Composite Centers (NCC) newly forming SMC consortium. The development team, innovative materials combinations and processing approach have been carefully selected to enable rapid commercialization of the new technology once demonstrated. Innovative materials and combinations of materials have potential to provide cost-effective engineered materials systems that provide significant weight savings for automotive structures, thus leading to higher vehicle fuel