SAN ANTONIO — April 5, 2023 —Southwest Research Institute and Tecnológico de Monterrey (Tec de Monterrey) will jointly fund three research and development initiatives to advance sustainable manufacturing and technology in the United States and Mexico. The trio of projects are the first selected to receive support through the Sustainable Manufacturing Program, a transnational research and development collaboration established between SwRI and Tec de Monterrey — a private, nonprofit, independent university based in Monterrey, Mexico — in August 2022. The program provides grant opportunities funded by both organizations.
“The funded project teams proposed creative solutions to improve the environment and advance sustainable practices in manufacturing,” said SwRI President and CEO Adam L. Hamilton, P.E. “We look forward to the progress that develops from this collaboration and the long-term impact of this research on industry and the planet.”
Sustainable manufacturing practices conserve energy and natural resources, using technology and materials that protect the environment while supporting technical advancements. Each project includes researchers from both organizations. Of nine proposals received in phase one of the program, three were chosen to receive $75,000 from each organization. Teams have one year to develop their concepts.
- SwRI’s Eloy Flores III and Dr. Michael MacNaughton will collaborate with Tec’s Dr. Alejandro Montesinos-Castellanos and Dr. Ladislao Sandoval Rangel on a carbon capture and utilization project to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, creating biochar using unique pyrolysis processing techniques. Biochar, a charcoal-like substance made by heating organic material in an oxygen-free environment, contains carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere and can be recycled for other uses, such as fertilizing soil. The focus of this project is to evaluate biochar as an advanced material for CO2 capture and storage.
- SwRI’s Alice Y. Yau and Tec’s Dr. Cecilia Daniela Treviño-Quintanilla will research how to recycle and reuse industrial rubbers and plastics, which often end up in landfills or oceans. Researchers will break down the industrial materials to develop bio-based compounds to create environmentally friendly raw materials. The new compounds could potentially support engineering design and creation of foams, adhesives, coatings, and other industrial and biomedical materials.
- SwRI’s Matthew Kirby and David Riha along with Tec’s Dr. Alex Elías-Zúñiga will develop a recyclable carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite. These composites, which are strong, lightweight alternatives to steel and aluminum alloys, are increasingly being used in aerospace, automotive and biomedical applications. Current CFRP materials are not easily recycled. The researchers also plan to develop processes to design and implement sustainable CFRP composites created through composite forging, an energy-efficient manufacturing technique.
In phase two of the program, project teams can request additional funding from SwRI and Tec de Monterrey and pursue external funding to further develop their sustainable technology.
For more information on SwRI’s manufacturing research and development program, visit https://www.swri.org/industries/manufacturing-technologies.