Bio-based composites for medical products are one outlet for a $4 million grant bestowed to a Kansas research center. The Kansas Bioscience Authority awarded the Kansas Polymer Research Center (KPRC) at Pittsburg State University, and the newly created Center of Innovation for Biomaterials in Orthopedic Research, the multimillion grant that will study sturdier yet lighter materials that can be used for a number of medical purposes. Steve Robb, executive director of the KPRC, told MPW the focus on the medical market matches up with the research of Via Christi Health System (Wichita, KS), which organized the Center of Innovation. In addition to Pittsburg State, the Center involves researchers from Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS) and Wichita State University, among others, and is expected to lead to the creation of thousands of jobs in the Wichita area from its headquarters on Wichita State’s campus.
Robb said the center will research materials that are lighter in weight but stronger than steel, applying composites to deal with obese patients, as well as using them to replace metal hips and knees with a composite material that would allow bone to grow into the composite material and form a joint. The KPRC will specifically deal with composites developments, tackling any research that involves polymer-based compounds. The research facility has become a center for the development of plant-derived polymer composite materials, including vegetable-oil-based resins.
On March 12, the KPRC was awarded nearly $1.3 million in U.S. federal government money from the 2009 omnibus bill, with plans to use those funds to support additional research and jobs in agriculture and bio-based product technology. Robb told MPW that KPRC just completed the submittal for the monies to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and will receive them over three years, with the first capital likely to be available in September 2009. That research is focused on bio-based polyols, using soybean and other vegetable oils to create the polyol element of polyurethane, which can be applied in foam and rigid plastics. Last year, the KPRC was awarded $1.1 million through the 2008 omnibus bill, with that money and the current funds to be disbursed over a three-year period. In 2007, the center was awarded a Presidential Green Award, making it one of only five organizations in the country to be so honored. —[email protected]