Date: Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Whitaker Lab 303

Lehigh University's Materials Science and Engineering department would like to remind you about its upcoming speakers in it Fall 2021 Seminar Series. Seminars are open to all visitors. Attendance is required for all full-time MSE graduate students.

Matthew KoreyOn Tuesday, September 14 at 4:30 p.m. EDT, Dr. Matthew Korey, of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will present "Biologically Derived and Recycled Feedstocks: Key Components of the Circular Economy for Composites," as part of Materials Science and Engineering's Fall 2021 Seminar Series. The event will be held in person at Whitaker Lab Room 303.


Fiber reinforced polymer composites are a blend of structural fiber (such as carbon or glass fiber) and polymer resin (matrix) which can achieve performance comparable to many commercial metals but at significantly lower density and weight.  As such, they have emerged as a wide-spread lightweight alternative to many metals in the aerospace, wind energy, and automotive/transportation industries. The global composites industry was estimated to be valued at 74 billion USD in 2020 and is anticipated to grow to more than 113 billion USD by 2025 with more than half of the value and the growth of the industry coming from the aerospace, wind energy, and automotive industries (26%, 21%, and 13% respectively).  

Although composites have had an enormous impact by replacing metals, unlike metals composites are not easily recycled at end of life.  As a result, it is estimated that the vast majority of these materials (more than 90% globally) will be landfilled after their primary lifetime, contributing to the growing international problem of plastics waste. Scaled to global demand for composites, it is anticipated that approximately 10 million tons of end-of-life composites will be generated in 2025 alone - the equivalent weight of more than 27 Empire State Buildings.  Furthermore, manufacturing of high-performance composites can be expensive, can require large amounts of energy and precursors sourced from non-renewable feedstocks, and can contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.  If these materials could be recycled at end of life, it could enable the composites industry to maintain its anticipated growth trajectory while simultaneously reducing environmental impact and waste through virgin material being offset by recyclate.  However, short-term solutions to composites waste management cannot solve this problem on their own, as within 60 years it is anticipated global demand for recycled feedstock will produce as much greenhouse gasses as present demand for non-recycled materials, fueled by the developing world.  Alternative low-carbon materials, such as biologically derived fiber reinforced composites, can provide a more long-term solution to this challenge.  However, these materials have yet to be widely industrially adopted.

In this seminar, we will unravel the complex supply chain constraints and considerations contributing to the ongoing challenge of composites waste in the United States.  Next, we will address state-of-the-art recycling technology and design techniques being developed to overcome these challenges to generate industrial demand in the for recycled feedstocks.  Finally, we will discuss ongoing work that we at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are doing to solve this grand challenge in collaboration with many collaborators in the United States and around the world from all levels of the composites supply chain.

About The Speaker:

Matthew Korey specializes in the development of novel, circular economies for plastic materials.  His doctoral work at Purdue University focused on designing for sustainability using bio-based materials for replacements for monomers, pre-cursor units, and additives for composite systems.  His postdoctoral work focuses on mechanical, chemical, biological, and thermochemical methods of composite recycling and the use of advanced re-processing techniques to recycle industrial composites waste.  Matthew is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  He is also co-chair of the Circular Economy Working Group at the Institute of Advanced Composites Manufacturing and Innovation (IACMI), Founding Chair of TMS PRIDE, and is Vice President of the Oak Ridge Postdoctoral Association.  For his work, Matthew was awarded the Top 10 Under 40 award through the Lafayette, IN Chamber of Commerce and the Graduate Service Award through the Purdue College of Engineering.