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Getting in Front of the Additive Manufacturing Revolution: Enabling the Automotive Industry to be Completely Chemically Circular

 

Precourt Pioneering Project

Awarded in the focus area of re-inventing plastics and their lifecycle of use.

Background

This project reimagines manufacturing for polymer-based components in automobiles. Polymers are key for the structure, performance, and safety of automobiles, with growth being driven by light-weighting trends for fuel efficiency and electrification. The high mechanical absorption properties of elastomers and plastics allow vehicles to meet stricter safety standards, while the use of engineering plastics allows for minimization of the mass of parts used in vehicles as they offer more design freedom compared to metals. Team member DeSimone led the development of a revolutionary new approach to 3D Printing called Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP). This approach has proven competitive with injection molding in several product areas, enabling 3D printing to transition from a prototyping to a manufacturing process.


Project Goal

In this project the PIs will leverage the power of CLIP toward circular, additive automotive manufacturing (DeSimone) coupled with innovative new chemistry (Waymouth, DeSimone) and reactive recycling process strategies (Tarpeh).  This research project has the potential to enable circular economies in automotive materials and to reduce the number of different polymeric materials needed to make a car from 40 mostly non-recyclable resins to only 5 fully recyclable resins.


Tasks

• Generate resins for high-speed photopolymerization-based 3D printing, from advances in synthetic polymer chemistry pioneered by Waymouth and DeSimone, that can have the requisite properties to replace resins currently used in the injection molding processes relevant for the automotive industry
• Investigate several selective recovery methods. Tarpeh, will translate his experience designing reactive separations to specifically remove specialized moieties from our polymers
• Establish a comprehensive framework of metrics by which to evaluate automotive plastics. These metrics will include longevity, recyclability, tunability, and life-cycle environmental impacts.


 

Robert Eckles Swain Professor in Chemistry Robert Waymouth investigates new catalytic strategies to create useful new molecules, including bioactive polymers, synthetic fuels, and sustainable plastics. The Waymouth Group applies mechanistic principles to develop new concepts in catalysis, with particular focus on the development of organometallic and organic catalysts for the synthesis of complex macromolecular architectures.

The DeSimone laboratory's research efforts are focused on developing innovative, interdisciplinary solutions to complex problems centered around advanced polymer 3D fabrication methods. In Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, the lab is pursuing new capabilities in digital 3D printing, as well as the synthesis of new polymers for use in advanced additive technologies. 

William A. Tarpeh is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. The Tarpeh Lab develops and evaluates novel approaches to resource recovery from “waste” waters at several synergistic scales: molecular mechanisms of chemical transport and transformation; novel unit processes that increase resource efficiency; and systems-level assessments that identify optimization opportunities. They employ understanding of electrochemistry, separations, thermodynamics, kinetics, and reactor design to preferentially recover resources from waste