This Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) project will establish the Polymer Nanocomposites Manufacturing Partnership (PNMP), a joint effort of the University of South Carolina (USC), the State of South Carolina, and polymer manufacturing companies located in South Carolina. The PNMP has a single vision: transformation of new polymer nanocomposites knowledge into polymer manufacturing processes and value-added plastic products that will fuel economic development in South Carolina. Students at all levels participating in research, development, technology transfer, and manufacturing will be the agents of this transformation and tomorrow's innovators in polymer nanocomposite manufacturing in South Carolina. Administered by the USC NanoCenter, the Partnership will foster innovation in polymer manufacturing through basic research in synthesis and characterization of layered (nano) materials, routes to their incorporation in polymer nanocomposites, and accelerated methods for evaluating nanocomposite performance; joint University/industry development of polymer nanocomposite technology for near-term commercialization; and workforce development through involvement in research, cross-disciplinary education, and industrial internships. Within the University, the PNMP will involve faculty and students from Chemical Engineering, Chemistry & Biochemistry, and the Moore School of Business, as well as staff from the USC NanoCenter and USC businessLINK (a fusion of five USC support units involved in economic development, technology transfer, and intellectual property).
Polymer manufacturing is crucial to South Carolina's economy and standard of living, but the state faces real economic threats from commoditization of PET (i.e., polyethylene terephthalate resin, which is commonly the packaging of choice for bottled water, for example) and nylon as well as globalization of their manufacture and marketing. Sustained innovation in polymer nanocomposites manufacturing will benefit South Carolina's polymer manufacturers, the State's economy, and ultimately, the standard of living and well being of its citizens. The Partnerships project will support many kinds of education and professional development activities with broad impacts. The Partnership programs will have synergy with existing programs at USC: four REU programs, a Sloan Foundation fellowship program, and NSF Alliances for Graduate Education in the Professoriate (AGEP) program. Because the PFI Partnerships project is well connected with existing USC programs for recruiting, retaining, and mentoring minority students, the broader impact of the PNMP will be to connect minority students with research, internship, and co-op experiences involving their industrial partners.
Partners: Partners include University of South Carolina (Lead Institution); State of South Carolina; and three confirmed industrial partners: Eastman Chemical Company, Michelin Americas, PBI Performance Products and MeadWestvaco.