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SBIR Phase I: Thermal Intensification for Continuous Thermoplastic Composite Forming

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1843054
Agency Tracking Number: 1843054
Amount: $224,718.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: MI
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2019-02-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-01-31
Small Business Information
311 Ferst Drive NW, L1365B, Atlanta, GA, 30332
DUNS: 080898731
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Christopher Oberste
 (678) 836-8103
Business Contact
 Christopher Oberste
Phone: (678) 836-8103
Research Institution
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project relates to the historic challenges associated with composite manufacturing, including long cycle times, poor recyclability, labor-intensive manufacturing, and energy-intensive curing processes. Thermoplastic composites have the potential to reduce cycle time, reduce labor requirements, and improve recyclability; however, traditional thermoplastic processes are energy intensive. This Phase 1 SBIR is seeking new, more efficient process heating methods that can be integrated into a continuous composite manufacturing process to improve production speed and reduce operating costs, enabling the growth of composite materials in weight sensitive industries that require high-volume, low-cost structural components, including automotive, unmanned aircraft, wind turbines, and cargo transportation. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will determine the technical feasibility of ultrasonic heating and induction heating as an alternative to infrared heating in a continuous composite forming process. Process heating constitutes a significant portion of the direct energy consumed by in manufacturing. This is particularly true in the production of fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites, where the polymer matrix must be melted as part of the consolidation process. As part of this Phase 1 project, heater modules for induction heating, ultrasonic heating, and infrared heating will be developed and integrated into a bench-scale, continuous composite forming prototype. Composite material will be produced using each heating method and energy consumption will be monitored during the forming process. The composite material produced during testing will be weighed and embodied energy will be calculated by dividing the total energy consumed by the mass of the material. The objective of this work is to identify a heating method that can reduce embodied energy by at least 40%, relative to the infrared heating system. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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