Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is offering composite sheet technology developed by DuPont.
DuPont gave the institution $23 million worth of patents and related equipment to make thin, porous sheet from thermoplastics and fibers. Virginia Tech predicts the composite technology can be used in construction, electrical, auto and aerospace applications.
Michael Martin, executive vice president of Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc., said his nonprofit company has begun talking to potential licensees, including composite users, producers, and raw material suppliers. DuPont donated the technology at the end of 1998.
Virginia Tech is setting up a new lab with the technology that will be affiliated with its Center for Composite Materials and Structures. Chemical engineering professor Donald G. Baird and professor of materials science engineering Alfred C. Loos will head up the new lab.
DuPont developed the technology in the late 1980s and early 1990s but recently decided it was not strategic, said Scott Nelson, spokesman for DuPont's corporate contributions office. Most of its work involved polyester and glass fibers, but it is suited to a broader range of materials, Nelson said by telephone from DuPont's Wilmington, Del., headquarters.
The DuPont technology is similar to paper making. Reinforcing fibers and plastic fibers are dispersed randomly in water and the slurry is cast on a moving screen to create a sheet. After drying, the thin, porous sheet can be compression molded. Other DuPont technology obtained by Virginia Tech can be used for continuous production of sheet profiles.
DuPont donated the technology to enhance the Blacksburg, Va., institution's research and education, and to provide it with a revenue stream, said Nelson. Two independent consultants arrived at the estimated value. DuPont also gave $41 million worth of chemicals technology to two other educational institutions.