Researchers at Auburn University in Alabama are part of an interdisciplinary group working to advance future manufacturing, including 3D-printed dwellings.
The researchers expect that their research will lead to practical treatments that would have sounded far-fetched just a few years ago.
This could involve manufacturing that takes waste biomaterials
and turns them into housing or construction components utilizing additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing).
The research, which covers engineering, chemistry, forest resources, and architecture,
also draws on scientists from Auburn University’s partner institution,
the University of Idaho, and is led by Michael Maughan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
The element of this interdisciplinary project that Auburn will lead will focus on bio-resin production
as a feedstock for 3D printing,
which will be done in Idaho.
To further improve the resin’s sustainability, this process will incorporate the conversion of biomass into chemicals and nanomaterials.
Only half of the households have access to affordable housing, according to Professor Brian Via, director of the school’s Forest Products Development Center.
Via is a principal investigator for a
new research project funded
by the National Science Foundation’s Research Infrastructure Improvement Program and valued at around US$3.9 million (£2.9 million).
“The problem of cheap housing is exacerbated for minorities,
who experience poverty at twice the rate of the general population,” he stated.
In addition to looking for solutions to this societal problem, the project will look into the environmental impact of traditional concrete and steel used in building construction versus tall timber buildings,
which emit one-third to one-half of the greenhouse gases produced by traditional materials, according to Via.
“Mass timber buildings as a first-generation material have just become popular in the United States as a means of reducing our carbon footprint,” he explained.
sophisticated manufacturing can aid in the utilization
of additional biomaterial waste from forest resources
, which can then be 3D printed into housing and building components.”
Developing a circular bio-based framework for architecture, engineering, and construction using additive manufacturing
The interdisciplinary project, titled “Developing a circular bio-based framework for architecture, engineering, and construction using additive manufacturing,” aims to develop the “next advanced manufacturing industry.”
“We’ll make 3D-printed wall panels for usage in housing and building construction,” Via explained.
“This will enable precise building in a manufacturing environment with sustainable resources
that can be supplied to the job site.”
We can 3D print building components that can be recycled at the end of their lives using biobased polymers and fibres.”
Professor Maria Auad,
head of Auburn’s Center Polymer and Advanced Composites
said the initiative is heavily reliant on the development of sustainable adhesives
made from renewable forest biomass and other waste resources that would otherwise be disposed of in landfills.
“The thematic basis of our proposal is to develop innovative materials
that will be environmentally friendly,
less reliant on depleting petroleum resources, and will use natural sources or waste products,
with an understanding of the environmental impact that the current generation of composite materials has at the end of their life,” Auad said.
, a team member and professor at Auburn’s College of Agriculture
and Head of the Bioenergy and Bioproducts Center believes it is critical to identify ways to use forest biomass
and other agricultural leftovers to create resilient structures with a low carbon footprint.
“We’re generating resins and adhesives from waste materials while reducing energy input in this research,” Adhikari explained.
Mentoring through Discovery
His job is to figure out how to make chemicals utilizing a quick pyrolysis technique for resin synthesis. Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of plastic waste at high temperatures without oxygen.
He will also mentor graduate and postdoctoral students who will work on circular bio-economy research.
Maria Soledad Peresin,
associate professor of forest biomaterials in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences is working on nano-cellulose production,
and chemical modification
to be included in bio-resin
to improve the mechanical performance of composites for 3D printing of housing and building components in this study.
“The project gives undergraduate and graduate students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on cutting-edge technology and sustainable development,” Peresin added.
According to Via,
the educational impact is important because one goal of the research is to teach a
new STEM-based workforce and scientists for the future industry.