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Lawrence Tech will dedicate materials research center May 2

Release Date: April 28, 2008

Southfield, Mich. Lawrence Technological University will dedicate its Center for Innovative Materials Research (CIMR) on Friday, May 2, from 4 to 6 p.m., on its campus at 21000 West Ten Mile Road in Southfield.

The U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) have funded projects at CIMR that help save lives, save taxpayer money and keep people safe. CIMR researchers have done work in the defense, homeland security, transportation infrastructure, construction and automotive industries.

Public officials who are scheduled to provide remarks at the dedication include U.S. Senator Carl Levin, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and MDOT Director Kirk Steudle.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has praised CIMR for its potential to create new jobs in Michigan in addition to helping develop new products with military and civilian applications.  “The center is a prime example of the intersection of high technology and homeland defense,” Granholm has observed. “Building the center will create jobs today. Putting the technology the center develops to work will create jobs tomorrow, and all of it will help protect America’s troops. This is a win for our economy today and a win for its future.”

MDOT recently designated the Civil Engineering Department at Lawrence Tech as a Center of Excellence for Sustainable Infrastructure & Structural Testing for its ongoing research at CIMR 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 on the development of new ways to increase the longevity of bridges and decrease maintenance costs.

“Research is happening right here in Michigan at Lawrence Technological University that isn’t happening anywhere else in the country. Lawrence Tech’s Center for Innovative Materials Research is doing research on carbon reinforcement and testing that ultimately will result in bridge structures that will last longer than ever before. We are proud to partner with Lawrence Tech as the CIMR develops innovative technologies that will benefit current and future generations by improving the nation’s infrastructure,” Steudle said.

Lawrence Tech’s CIMR is a unique national research facility that offers four ways to test materials:

  • Concrete components up to 100 feet long can be tested for stress under both static and repeated loads up to a million pounds of force.
  • An environmental/loading chamber to be built this year will measure the impact of both repeated and static loads in simulated climatic conditions ranging from Antarctica to equatorial South America.
  • A fire/loading chamber installed in 2007 can test structural components up to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit and approximate conditions at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
  • Nanotechnology testing equipment can measure such things as the tensile strength of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in reinforced concrete and fabric.

For more than a decade, Grace has conducted research on using noncorrosive carbon, glass and aramid fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP, GFRP, AFRP) materials and other advanced composites to replace steel reinforcement bars in bridge construction. Composites are more expensive, but eliminating steel corrosion reduces maintenance costs and can double the longevity of bridges, according to Grace.

These composites also have military applications. Innovative and advance carbon fiber materials are being developed at CIMR that can help reduce the weight of military vehicles and body armor while providing greater protection and durability. Less weight in vehicles also improves fuel economy.

CIMR researchers are collaborating with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) on the design, testing, evaluation and durability of military materiel.

Carbon fiber can be used to improve the durability of wind turbine blades, and there are many other potential commercial uses for composite materials developed and researched at CIMR.

Lawrence Technological University, ltu.edu, offers some 80 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes 75 years ago, and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, with education centers in Lansing, Livonia, Clinton Township, Traverse City and Petoskey. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.