After 40 years creating metal matrix composites, metallurgist Pradeep Rohatgi invented new materials to build smart products. Most of Rohatgi’s creations sat on the shelf for decades. But a flourishing entrepreneurial culture at UW-Milwaukee, the right partners and a national push for conservation and energy independence convinced him to make the leap into the commercial sphere. He’s doing so with a product line made using a self-lubricating composite, one he believes will cut friction in internal combustion engines significantly, saving gas while reducing emissions.
“The federal mandates to reduce carbon emissions and increase fuel efficiency could be the incentives that finally help these composites into the marketplace,” said engineering alumnus Chris Jordan, who worked in Rohatgi’s lab as an undergraduate. Jordan and lab mate Simon Beno have joined Rohatgi and two of his collaborators in a startup company, Intelligent Composites, which aims to get car parts made with the composite into commercial use. If successful, the startup’s product line could reinvigorate Wisconsin foundries that have lost business to cheap labor overseas.
Credit: UWM Photo/Troye Fox