President Obama recently announced a new competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), to provide $70 million to launch a new Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation Institute. The institute will focus on advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites, which combine strong fibers with tough plastics to cost effectively manufacture materials that are lighter and stronger than steel. The DOE seeks proposals from teams of nonprofit organizations, universities, national laboratories, and private industry, and will award up to $70 million over five years, subject to congressional appropriations, which must be matched by at least $70 million in non-federal commitments.

While advanced composites are used in selective industries such as aircraft, military vehicles, satellites, and luxury cars, these materials remain expensive, require large amounts of energy to manufacture, and are difficult to recycle. The DOE’s Manufacturing Innovation Institute for advanced composites will be aimed at overcoming these barriers to widespread use by developing low-cost, high-speed, and energy-efficient manufacturing and recycling processes. Through this work, the institute will focus on lowering the cost of advanced composites by 50%, reducing the energy used to make composites by 75% and increasing the recyclability of composites to more than 95% within 10 years.

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