IACMIUS – Led by the University of Tennessee, the 122-member Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) will seek to develop improved composite materials and technologies for rapid roll-out across the automotive, wind turbine and compressed gas storage industries. IACMI was given national institute status by the US Department of Energy and announced by President Obama.

IACMI will focus on advanced fibre-reinforced polymer composites combining strong fibres with tough plastics to yield materials which are both lighter and stronger than steel. With most advanced composites currently expensive, energy-intensive in production and difficult to recycle, the Institute will aim to develop low-cost, high-production, energy-efficient manufacturing and recycling processes for composite applications.

As the fifth designated Institute, IACMI will form part of the American government’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The founding partners are: the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Tennessee); the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Colorado); Purdue University (Indiana); Michigan State University (Michigan); the University of Dayton Research Institute (Ohio); and the University of Kentucky (Kentucky).

The six partner states, plus members including Volkswagen and 90 other companies across the supply chain, have committed to further contributions to the Institute totalling $189m.

Matthias Erb, executive vice-president, Engineering and Planning, Volkswagen Group of America, said VW would dedicate its “vast technological resources and automotive manufacturing expertise to help IACMI expand the American workforce and overcome current barriers to the use of advanced composite materials”.