Calling it a crucial part of Michigan's research and economic future, officials from area governments and Lawrence Technological University Friday formally dedicated the university's new Center for Innovative Materials Research.
CIMR has already gone to work doing research in the defense, homeland security, transportation infrastructure, construction and automotive industries.
The center features huge presses that can test concrete components up to 100 feet long for stress under static and repeated loads of up to a million pounds.
Also, it has a huge fire and loading chamber the size of a school bus that can test structural components at temperatures of up to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit, approximating the conditions inside the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
There's also an environmental and loading chamber being built this year that will measure impact in simulated climatic conditions ranging from Antarctica to the hottest desert to the rain forest.
The Michigan Department of Transportation recently designated Lawrence Tech's civil engineering department as a Center of Excellence for Sustainable Infrastructure and Structural Testing for its ongoing research to improve the structural integrity and longevity of concrete bridges. MDOT engineers will work with civil engineering department chair Nabil Grace and his research team to develop new ways to increase the longevity of bridges and cut maintenance costs.
Grace has been researching noncorrosive carbon, glass and aramid fiber reinforced polymer materials and other advanced composites to replace steel reinforcement bars in bridge construction.
The composites also have military applications, and CIMR researchers are collaborating with the United States Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center on the design, testing, evaluation and durability of military components.
Said Lawrence Tech president Lewis N. Walker: "We're very pleased and proud of this new facility and what it can bring us in terms of new structures and materials, primarily in bridges but also in the military ... we consider ourselves a partner in the economic development of this region as we move things from research to commercialization."
Walker said Lawrence Tech secured more than $6 million from the federal government to build the CIMR and conduct research within it.
Added Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Bloomfield Hills: "The facility we dedicate today is a perfect example of the kinds of things we need to create the new Michigan economy."
Added Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation: "Hopefully this center will change the way we build things not only in Michigan but across the country."
From Great Lakes IT Report, May 4, 2008