TUS to break ground on €10m Polymer Centre of Excellence

The Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS) will shortly commence work on a new polymer centre of excellence, valued at €10 million, on its Athlone campus.

The two-phase project, which is due to break ground early next year and conclude in March 2023, will comprise a 1,330 square metre extension and refurbishment of existing facilities, including R&D and office space.

The new polymer centre will form part of the university’s STEM Quadrangle, which links TUS’s existing €36 million state-of-the-art engineering facility, its forthcoming STEM building, and its Applied Polymer Technologies (APT) technology gateway.

  APT, which is based in TUS’s Materials Research Institute, was recently awarded €4 million in HEA funding to renovate its existing polymer R&D facilities, which provides polymer technology solutions for companies in the medical, composite, sustainability, and pharmaceutical sectors.

A further €4 million in Enterprise Ireland capital equipment funding has been awarded to the technology gateway since 2019, with more than €1.8 million of that allocated in 2021 alone.

This coupled with donations of equipment from engineering and polymer suppliers, capital equipment investment by Enterprise Ireland into COMAND, TUS’s other technology gateway in Athlone, and the university’s own projected investment of €1.5 million brings the total value of the new polymer R&D centre to more than €10 million.

“We’re delighted to get this continued investment into our polymer research capabilities. Building on our strong heritage as a national polymer research centre of excellence, this new facility will further strengthen our offering to industry,” APT centre manager Dr. Noel Gately explained.

“In addition to doubling our existing footprint, we are also enhancing our analytical capabilities in our contract services offering and enhancing our design and processing equipment right across the board”.

TUS President Professor Vincent Cunnane welcomed the continued investment and called polymer R&D an area of strategic importance to TUS.

“Polymer engineering is a key enabling technology – it’s hugely important in the MedTech, construction and clean energy sectors – and through the MRI and APT, TUS is providing research solutions to industrial-based problems, among them the development of recycling technologies and bio-based plastics. This additional investment into our capabilities will enable us to drive Ireland’s national polymer research agenda to the next level,” he said.

In addition to its research and development capabilities, TUS’s new polymer centre of excellence will act as a showcase facility for industry and will feature R&D equipment from leading injection moulding and polymer processing companies like Sumitomo Demag, TSM, Arburg, and Dynisco/EMC.

The construction works, which will commence on January 7th, 2022, and span 14 months, will be undertaken by Bourke Builders Ltd of Ballina, Co. Mayo.