Rios is focused on creating an aluminum alloy from recycled feedstock, where the main alloying element is a waste product of a Rare Earth Mines mine.
“The alloys we are working on don’t require heat treatment so they are more energy efficient,” he said. “When you heat treat anything with a high aspect ratio–like a blade–it gets distorted, and then you have to straighten it, which costs money.”
Harper’s expertise is in lignin-based composites. Lignins are organic polymers important in the formation of nearly 25 percent of woody plant cell walls. Large amounts of lignin are produced as a byproduct of pulp and paper manufacturing and burned to produce energy.
Harper says lignin is an important energy source for the wood products industry in North America; however, not all lignin is burned, and fuel represents an important, yet low-value use.
“We aim to take part of this abundant resource and produce more value for the forest products industry,” he said. “We are designing lignin-based and recycled carbon fiber composites to make a low-cost and more sustainable material.”
SHARKS is expected to span three years with $38M in funded projects.