In the afternoon of November 7, UNIST held a grand opening celebration to commemorate the completion of Fraunhofer Project Center for Composites Research@UNIST (FPC@UNIST), the Korean branch of Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT).
With the help of this center, the development of advanced lightweight materials and manufacturing technologies is expected to accelerate and this will lead the autumotive industry to a new era.
The completion ceremony of FPC@UNIST was held alongside the signing of two separate Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that aim to promote multilateral research collaboration. The agreement among UNIST, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and University of Western Ontario (UWO) was signed prior to the ceremony and the other cooperation agreement among Ulsan city, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd, UNIST, and Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology was signed in the afternoon.
Led by Professor Young-Bin Park in the School of Mechanical Aerospace & Nuclear Engineering at UNIST, the FPC@UNIST has firmly established their place in the global automotive lightweight materials market through the establishment of successful partnerships with world-renowned universities and research organizations.
“Fiber-reinforced composite materials, optimization design, and molding technology can be key in solving vehicle weight reduction, which poses one of the greatest challenges to the automotive industry,” says Director Park of FPC@UNIST. “Carbon fiber, which is roughly 75% lighter than steel, yet 10 times more elastic, can serve as the first step toward a fundamental solution not only to minimize vehicle fuel consumption and exhaust emissions that have been raised by traditional automotive industry, but also to provide significant weight-reduction for electric vehicle batteries.”
UNIST has made constant efforts in laying the groundwork for research and development of fiber-reinforced composite materials. This put in place the foundations for the successful launch of the new Korean branch of Fraunhofer research group in 2016. Following Canada, this is the second branch that has been approved by the headquarters of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.
“The FPC@UNIST represents a unique and unprecedented partnership that brings together a Korean university, a German industry, and Korean government,” says Director Park of FPC@UNIST. “Following Canada, this is the second branch that has been approved by the headquarters of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.”
The center has secured a total of KRW 20 billion from the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ulsan city over a period of four years. This new research center is about 1,634 square meters and boasts KRW 10 billion worth high-speed molding equipment for carbon fiber reinforced composites, currently being operated.
“Ulsan the arena in which a new era for the Korean automobile industry has dawned and grown globally,” says President Mooyoung Jung of UNIST. “Centered around UNIST, once the development of advanced lightweight materials using fiber-reinforced composites is ready in full swing, Ulsan will become the leading city in the automobile industry even in the era of highly-automated and autonomous driving.”
Meanwhile, the event consisted of the ribbon-cutting and signboard-hanging ceremonies, followed by the signing ceremonies of MoU among multilateral organizations, as well as a brief tour of the facilities. Over 80 participants attended the ceremony, which includes Mayor Song Chul Ho (Ulsan Metropolitan city), Chairman Se-young Hwang (Ulsan Metropolitan Council), President Mooyoung Jung (UNIST), Vice President Eon Tae Ha (Hyundai Motor Company), Deputy Director Frank Henning (Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT), and other key officials from the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology (KIAT), German Embassy Seoul, University of Western Ontario (UWO), and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).