Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Research in polymer matrix composites in the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering (MTM) of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven was started in 1982. During the first, exploratory years, many different research topics were covered, mainly related to the mechanical behaviour of composites.
Gradually, emphasis was put on four research lines:
- Meso- and macro-level studies of composites, including modelling of textile reinforced composites and multilevel damage analysis.
- Micro- and nano-level studies of composites, focusing on nano-engineered fibre reinforced composites.
- Bio-based composites, made from biopolymers and/or natural fibres.
- Advanced processing methods for composites and product development, including work on foams and sandwich materials.
The Composite Materials Group (CMG) is coordinated by prof. Ignaas Verpoest and by prof. Stepan Lomov. The group attracts a very international group of researchers, representing 12 different countries: 15 PhD students, 7 project researchers (of which 4 postdocs) and some 15 master’s students. They work enthusiastically in fundamental and applied research projects, funded by the Flemish, Belgian and European governments and by industry. Skilled technicians develop and optimise sophisticated processing and testing equipment.
The Composite Materials Group has participated in a number of EU projects: 4th FP (MULTEXCOMP), 5th FP (TECABS, AMITERM), 6th FP (ITOOL, AUTOW, AVALON, Marie Curie MOMENTUM) and 7th FP (NANCORE, INFUCOMP, M-RECT, HIVOCOMP, IMS&CPS) in the field of theory, design, experimental studies and applications of composite materials.
The research in natural fibre composites is being carried on in the framework of several nationally funded projects and bilateral international collaboration. In total 8 researchers of the CMG are involved in the natural fibre composites projects. In the BioBuild project they will concentrate on the fibre and resin modifications needed to ensure the long-term durability requirements of the materials in the construction applications envisaged, using modifications to both fibre and resin systems. KU Leuven plans to use part of the RTD personnel budget to pay PhD student(s) that will need to present and publish their scientific results during the project and will obtain a PhD in the project research domain.