$3.2 million grant going toward plastic and polymer research

Anushka K.C.

Staff Writer

Last year, Troy University received a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences, focusing on research in areas of polymers and polymer recycling. 

The school is currently in the process of purchasing lab equipment using the grant and converting existing classroom space into research labs by July. New faculty members are also being hired as well as the framework for what comes next and is in the works.

“As of right now, the initial stage involves one of the rooms in the third floor of MSCX,” said Dr. Katherine Stewart, an assistant professor of chemistry who is involved in the project. “We are in the process of converting a classroom into an analytical lab. 

“The goal is to put the analytical equipment in a brand-new lab that is our temporary space until we get a building.” 

Until then, there are hopes of talks about a three-story building outside the main campus to host the processing labs.

There are also a number of businesses partnering with the university for the center. 

 “We had a Road Mapping conference in Washington, D.C. along with a combined Plastics Recycling conference where we interacted with over 200 industry people and they told us what they would want us to do,”  Stewart said. “I am happy to report that we have engaged with many partners there; they are in constant touch with us. 

“As soon as we have the lab up and going, we will be doing research work that is very right and that will help the American plastics industry.”

KW Plastics, the largest plastic recycler in the country, and The University of Alabama at Birmingham are also collaborating with Troy for the center. 

“The biggest thing is that while we are currently ordering equipment and setting up, they already have them,” Stewart said. “There’s a little bit of training going on in terms of how to use some of the various equipment and sort of figuring out projects with them as well.”

A scholarship fund is being set up to attract students to the research. Any student interested can talk to professors in the Department of Chemistry about it.

“Just send an email and say hey!” Stewart said. “We are always looking for good students.”

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