By Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, U.S.A.
Cotton, wool, nanofibers, carbon fibers and composites will soon get a research boost in Australia. The Australian government and other funding partners will invest US $100 million over a period of three years (July 2010–June 2013) to set up the Australian Future Fibers Research and Innovation Centre (AFFRIC) on the Deakin University campus in Geelong, Australia. Geelong is located 70 kilometers south west of Melbourne, Australia.
The Australian government, through its educational investment fund, will provide a total of US $37 million. AFFRIC is also receiving funding support from Deakin University, CSIRO, the Victorian Centre for Advanced Material Manufacturing and the Victoria State Government.
During the international conference of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) in Charleston, S.C., U.S.A. on March 24th, Professor Xungai Wang, director for the Center for Material and Fiber Innovation of Deakin University, said that the money is for capital equipment and infrastructure for the new center. According to Dr. Wang, the new center will help to transform the fiber and composite industry in Australia.
The center has already started functioning with Phase I funding of US $10 million. The AFFRIC will focus on four primary areas: carbon fibers and composites, nanofiber technology; green natural fibers and functional fibrous materials. The funding will allow two new buildings to be built on Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus in Geelong, alongside its current Centre for Material and Fiber Innovation. Research at this centre has received the highest score in the recently released national report on research excellence in Australia.
According to Dr. Wang, cotton and wool fiber research will be performed within the research platform of natural fibers. Recently, Deakin University has provided an additional US $3 million to recruit scientists to work on related projects.