The U.S. Army awarded a $15 million contract for the development of a new type of lightweight composite armor based on nanotechnology.
The pact awarded to the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) this week will lead to new materials that can be used in vehicles and body armor.
"This is not a ground-level academic study project," UDRI engineer Brian Rice said. "We are actually working with two Ohio companies to create a product that, if it tests out well, could show up in Iraq next year."
Armor Holdings and TPI Composites are also involved in the project, which is under the auspices of the Army Research Laboratory. Rice said Dayton would be working with the two companies specifically on an armor package for Humvees and armored vehicles.
UDRI is home to one of the leading ballistics labs in the United States.
Rice said the planned armor "will be even stronger than existing armor, but also lighter, to reduce the top weight of the 'up-armored' vehicle."
He also assured that engineers would be looking into reducing the flammability and flexibility issues inherent in many composite materials as an improvement in body armor.
UDRI said in a statement that the research would also likely lead to advances in protective materials for police and firefighters as well as other civilian applications such as vehicles, rail cars and wind-turbine blades.