Richard P. Wool, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Delaware, thinks that turning soy into industrial grade plastic is food for thought. As the director of Affordable Composites from Renewable Sources program at the University's Center for Composite Materials, he uses soy for manufacturing the doors for a John Deere tractor. He thinks that most of the tractor, including the tires, could be made from soy. Wool points out that the advantages of plastics made from soy include biodegradability, abundance, and the fact that soy is renewable. "Soy-based composites have better physical properties," says Wool. For more information, go to www.udel.edu.
A new federally sponsored manufacturing innovation center to strengthen US manufacturing abilities in fiber-reinforced composites has formed, bringing together materials suppliers, OEMs, university R&D labs, and national labs.
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