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Engineering professor presents research at international conference

Chad Ulven, professor of mechanical engineering, spoke at the Third International Conference on Composites, Biocomposites and Nanocomposites, known as ICCBN, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Nov. 7-9. 

Ulven’s talk focused on his research in the area of natural fiber composites. Specifically, the use of North American grown linseed flax or hemp fibers as reinforcement in plastics for many different structural composite applications.

“It was a great experience to participate in this conference which brought hundreds of people from both academia and industry throughout South Africa to discuss advances in composite materials and how to continue to incorporate these materials into various applications,” Ulven said.

The utilization of natural fibers as reinforcement in plastics to improve strength and stiffness is not a new concept and has been fairly well established. However, most of this technology has been based on European or Asian linen flax and hemp fibers.

Over the past several years, Ulven’s research team has been working on various projects and collaborations to design sustainable natural fiber composites for North American industry.

“I was able to demonstrate through my presentation the potential of utilizing natural fibers native to South Africa for composite materials development, just like we’ve been demonstrating with natural fibers in North Dakota for agricultural value-add,” said Ulven.

The ICCBN, hosted by the Durban University of Technology in Durban, South Africa, presented current research and innovation from national and international experts in the field of advanced composite materials.

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