An $18 million grant from the National Science Foundation will not only support the development of advanced materials through the University of Michigan but also aims to open materials science to more people.
The materials center at the Ann Arbor, Mich., college will recruit researchers from high schools and higher education institutions that "serve economically disadvantaged and underrepresented communities" to its programs.
It will also have summer workshops for high school teachers to fulfill continuing education requirements that will include training on teaching methods for materials science and chemistry, the university said in a June 26 news release.
The focus of the materials research will be on producing more sustainable rigid plastics while also bringing more people into the field.
UM said it "envisions crosslinks" that can be reversed, repaired and recycled — unlike most thermosets.
Wind turbine blades, for instance, could be repaired and used for a longer period of time.
"A repair would not just be a patch — it would reconstitute the material to its original molecular structure," said John Kieffer, a U-M professor of materials science and engineering who leads the sustainable plastics project. "That would extend the lifetime of the structure and reduce the amount of material that has to be discarded."