Tecnológico de Monterrey and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), one of the largest Research and Development organizations in the United States, which is located in San Antonio, Texas, have launched a new research initiative to promote advanced materials and achieve sustainable manufacturing.
This comes as part of a collaboration agreement signed between both institutions on August 19, 2022, during the first International Conference on Advanced Materials for Sustainable Manufacturing.
The partnership between Tec de Monterrey and SwRI
Three joint research projects are being funded in the program‘s first phase. SwRI and Tec de Monterrey have contributed 75,000 dollars per project, providing a total of 225,000 dollars per organization.
These projects will promote sustainable manufacturing in the United States and Mexico. In phase 2, three proposals will be selected for additional funding, and the project leaders will also seek external support.
The aim of the first project from this partnership is to produce and analyze biochar −biomass charcoal− for CO2 capture and utilization through pyrolysis −thermal degradation− of agro-industrial and urban waste. It will be led by Alejandro Montesinos, leader of the strategic project of Processes and Technologies for CO2 capture at the Tec, and Eloy Flores, R&D Director of the Chemical Engineering Department at SwRI.
Another project is the chemical treatment of industrial rubbers to recycle them by degradation in order to obtain bio-based compounds with chemical, thermal, and mechanical properties. This is led by Cecilia Treviño from the Tec’s Intelligent Development of Advanced Materials unit, and Alice Yau, an SwRi chemist.
“We’re taking a giant step forward, and that’s why this project with SwRI is strategic; we’re really enthusiastic about it because no one else has the technologies that we have at the Tec, not in Latin America and probably at almost any other educational institution, except this one in the United States,” explains Alex Elías, leader of the Accelerated Materials Development Unit at the Institute of Advanced Materials for Sustainable Manufacturing at Tec de Monterrey.
The third of the projects, led by Elías and Matthew Kirby, a scientist from the mechanical engineering division of SwRI’s materials engineering department, aims to create an epoxy resin to be used in the design of carbon fiber materials and fiberglass. Besides employing a more efficient process, it can be recycled or reused.
If the project’s first phase is successful, the next step allows the opportunity to set up binational technology-based companies centered around the results from the resin and its applications, which would cover both markets: Latin America and the United States.