You are here

Game Changing Technologies for Polymer Composites


c.       Game Changing Technologies for Polymer Composites

In support of DOE’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, this subtopic encourages the submission of proposals for innovations in polymer composites such as carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites that have the potential to provide the most significant weight savings (up to 60-70%), while offering high specific strength, high specific stiffness, and excellent chemical/corrosion resistance which are important in a vehicle operational environment. Enabling the use of lightweight materials across the automotive industry through the development of novel materials, composite preforms and intermediates, manufacturing processes, and components for high-volume, high-performance, and affordable polymer composite vehicle applications is a key enabler for increasing fuel economy and reducing the environmental impact of vehicles.


Areas of interest within this subtopic are as follows:


1. Multiscale reinforced lightweight polymer composites: Polymer composites often rely on employing reinforcements such as micro- or nano-fillers in a relatively soft matrix. Simply using a single type of reinforcement (either micro- or nano-fillers) in polymer composites has almost achieved its reinforcing limit.  Multiscale micro/nano hybrid reinforcements are anticipated to achieve exceptional reinforcing effects, which are beyond the reach of a single type of reinforcement. Such hierarchical hybrid fillers are expected to enhance the filler/matrix interfacial load transfer.  However, simultaneously adding both micro- and nano-reinforcements in a polymer matrix material remains challenging since nano-fillers tend to loosely adhere (agglomerate) onto micro-fillers, decreasing their reinforcing effects [1]. 


Areas of interest:

·         Technologies to achieve multiscale (both micro- and nanoscale) reinforcing effects simultaneously in the polymer matrix.

·         Development of new kinds of fillers with both micro- and nano-characteristics enabling multiscale reinforcing mechanisms in polymer composites.


2. Nano-additive enabled upcycling of polymer composites: Polymer composite vehicle structures/parts are required to be recycled for reuse.  Converting polymer composites into a value-added product will significantly reduce the amount of plastic that becomes landfill or environmental pollution. The recycled composites often exhibit degradation in both properties and functionalities. Upcycling is needed to restore the recycled composites to achieve the same or even superior properties and functionalities over the pristine polymer composite counterparts [2]. Nano-additives are anticipated to offer an intriguing upcycling opportunity through reinforcing matrix and/or tailoring filler/matrix interface to achieve a higher load-transfer efficiency.


Areas of interest:

·         Technologies to upcycle polymer composites by adding low-cost nano-fillers in recycled composites. 

·         Development of low-cost nano-additives capable of restoring recycled composites to achieve the same or even superior properties and functionalities over the pristine polymer composite counterparts.


Proposals must tie in with structural polymer composites that have advantages of low cost, lightweight, and high performance for vehicle applications. Any proposals using above technologies to develop or improve battery materials performance will not be considered.


Questions – Contact: Felix Wu,


US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government