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Bio-Based Composite Panel Systems for Residential Construction

University of Delaware

* Harry W. Shenton, III, Principal Investigator
* Richard P. Wool, Co-Principal Investigator

Start: September 1, 2003
Expires: August 31, 2005


The goal of the research is to design, fabricate, test, and evaluate an innovative panelized system for residential construction made from bio-based composite materials, which can be fabricated simply and inexpensively. The panels will be of a sandwich type construction, consisting of a foam core sandwiched between outer sheets or "skins". The panels will be designed with or without web between the skins. The composite materials will consist of soybean-based resins and all-natural reinforcement, such as recycled paper, chicken feathers, and Nano clays.

The specific objectives of the proposed research are to:

  1. Design a prototype, multi-function, bio-based composite panel suitable for residential construction

  2. Develop low-cost processes for manufacturing large sandwich panels made from bio- based composite materials, and

  3. Test and evaluate the panels for normal, in-plane shear, axial compression and bearing load capacity.

The research plan is organized into three primary tasks.

Task 1, Design of the prototype multi-function panel, will involve basic research to improve the performance of the resin and composite system, and design of a generic, multi-function panel.

Task 2, Alternative low-cost fabrication processes for composite panel systems, will explore innovative methods for fabricating large composite panels. This will include an efficient VARTM process, and also what we term composite casting.

Finally, in Task 3, Testing and analysis of the composite panel, panels will be tested in bending, in-plane shear, axial compression and bearing, to determine their stiffness, load capacity, ductility and failure mode. Analytical models of the panels will also be developed to be used in design and analysis of the system.

The research will benefit society at large by providing an Advanced Panelized System for residential construction that is made entirely from all-natural, bio-based composite materials. The system will reduce our dependence on petroleum products and reduce deforestation.

The research brings together expertise in civil engineering, chemical engineering, materials science and composites manufacturing: the multi-disciplinary nature of the research will provide a unique opportunity for students and faculty to learn from each other and explore, together this very interesting and quickly expanding of field. Results of the study will be made available to the community through archival journals and the World Wide Web. The PIs will use the resources of the RISE program at the University of Delaware to recruit and encourage the participation of minority students on the project.

View additional details on this NSF award.

Content updated on 9/21/2005

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