The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) is also engaged in research relating to vehicles through a partnership with SoVa Motion, part of the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) at nearby Virginia International Raceway (VIR), as well as research into biopolymer and composite materials that can be used in vehicle body panels. The advantages of natural fibers are low-cost, low density, competitive mechanical properties, reduced energy consumption, and biodegradability.
IALR is poised to leverage its resources fully in two areas relating to vehicle research: tires and body panels.
The NTRC is an advanced tire research center and test facility specializing in independent testing, research and assessments that has unparalleled tire testing capabilities. Other testing and simulation assets developed by IALR are being used by SoVa Motion, which is part of the NTRC.
The National Tire Research Center will house a force and moment tire test machine designed for passenger-car, light-truck, and motorsport tires. The machine can test tires to 200 mph and provides data on torque and braking capabilities, including on wet road conditions.
Body Panels - Biocomposites are materials formed by a matrix (resin) and a reinforcement represented by natural fibers deriving from plants or cellulose. Bio-composites are emerging as a viable alternative to glass fiber reinforced composites, especially in automotive applications. Advantages of natural fibers are low-cost, low density, competitive mechanical properties, reduced energy consumption, and biodegradability.