Researcher at the University of California, Riverside has developed a new technology inspired by a tiny crustacean that will enable composites to be lighter weight, more impact-resistant, more durable, and be manufactured at a lower overall cost.
The technology creates material with a structure that resembles twisted plywood and could change the way we play sports, and also improve wind-farm productivity and automotive fuel economy.
It has been developed by David Kisailus, professor of chemical and environmental engineering, as well and materials science and engineering at the University of California, Riverside. Helicoid Industries hopes to sublicense the technology to the sporting goods, wind turbine, aerospace, auto parts, defense, and industrial components industries.
However, the biggest impact could be felt in wind-turbine manufacturing, where the lower energy production costs of larger blades are offset by limitations imposed by their increased weight. Helicoid composite materials would make larger, more lightweight blades and improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of wind-based energy production.
Inspired from Mantis Shrimp Helicoid Structure
Researchers studied the "smasher" mantis shrimp has evolved an internal structure, called a helicoid, wraps within the mantis shrimp's club and protects it from damage as it delivers crushing blows to its hard-shelled prey.
The helicoid prevents cracks from growing and ultimately dissipates significant amounts of energy from strikes to avoid catastrophic failure. It achieves immense impact resistance without adding unnecessary weight. Kisailus and his team discovered manufacturing ultrastrong composite materials and components using this helicoid structure results in lighter, tougher, and more impact-resistant products.
UC Riverside’s Office of Technology Partnerships, or OTP, leads technology transfer, industry partnership, and entrepreneurship efforts for the university. The integrated OTP team, including intellectual property and commercialization experts, mentors from EPIC SBDC, the office’s Small Business Development Center, and scientists worked closely with Helicoid Industries to support the licensing and fundraising process to ensure a successful venture.
Benefiting Composites Industry
Rosibel Ochoa, Associate Vice Chancellor of Technology Partnerships at UC Riverside said: “We are delighted to partner with Helicoid Industries to commercialize this unique technology, so it can positively impact society,”
Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of Helicoid added: “Utilization of this bio-inspired technology will enable composites to be lighter weight, more impact-resistant, more durable, and be manufactured at a lower overall cost. Applying this new architecture into composite materials across a variety of sectors will be very beneficial to the composite industry,”
The company is finalizing a $5 million financing round to build its management and sales teams and to complete prototype manufacturing. The company envisions commercialization before the end of 2019.