January 14, 2014 (Washington, DC) The Department of Energy held a workshop yesterday on polymer composites after publishing two requests for information. President of the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), Tom Dobbins CAE, made the following comments in response to the workshop:
“ACMA commends United States Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz, Assistant Secretary David Danielson, and the Department of Energy staff for their leadership in identifying issues that if addressed will lead to the growth of composites. Composites bring improved strength, light weight and corrosion resistance. They are currently making our cars and trucks safer and more fuel efficient, enabling us to produce wind energy, and providing safer storage for chemicals and petroleum products. They have the potential to improve our infrastructure and make it last longer, harden the electricity grid, and enable us to produce more clean energy.”
Dobbins added, “The department shared its findings and the important programs that it is working on to improve our nation’s economy and quality of life. Composites are a part of that equation; ACMA, its members and the composites industry stand ready to work with the Department to help composites reach their full potential and full benefit to our economy.”
“The timing for this conference couldn’t be better. Other nations, including China, Germany and Australia, are providing significant funding to make themselves innovators and therefore the leaders in composites technology. The US composites industry is primarily made up of small and mid-sized businesses. Without leadership from the government it will become increasingly more difficult to compete with other countries that are making the investment in R&D for composites,” Dobbins stated.
“What is needed is a roadmap to identify the technology hurdles that prevent composites from achieving their full potential. We also need to identify the cultural barriers to expanding the use of composites. ‘We have always done it that way’ is not an acceptable approach to make our energy grid and infrastructure more resilient by using composites. The government has to educate and challenge designers to incorporate composites in products that need superior strength-to-weight ratios and corrosion resistance.”
Dobbins went on to state, “As the government provides this much-needed support for composites, we urge that the government support all elements of composites, including the broad range of reinforcements and resin systems. Investment in the breadth of these material inputs will provide benefits to all aspects of the industry and more importantly to the products we manufacture that improve the quality of life for Americans.”