The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a Utah State University professor nearly $2 million to produce synthetic spider silk fibers that could be used to make lighter, more efficient automobiles.
According to a story in the Herald Journal of Logan, Utah, Randy Lewis and his Utah Science Technology and Research team were awarded $1.9 million from the department to conduct the research—one of 14 projects selected nationally for a DOE program aimed at exploring environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies to help reduce the nation’s petroleum use.
The two-year project will unite Lewis with partners at the University of California, Riverside, and Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to explore two questions:
- Does it make sense to use spider silk fibers in place of carbon fibers in composites used in vehicles?
- Does it work to use spider silk fibers in current manufacturing processes?
The objective is for lighter car components that could improve gas mileage and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.