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October 25, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Co-Founders credit well-known UTK Professor for launching their journey

Pritesh Yeole and Vinit Chaudhary launched Aligned Composites Technology, inspired by the passion of Uday Vaidya.

Two college students who met five years ago in a laboratory at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) are now the co-founders of a start-up named Aligned Composites Technology, and both credit UTK Professor Uday Vaidya for launching them on their start-up journey.

Uday Vaidya

Both Pritesh Yeole and Vinit Chaudhary immigrated from India. In Yeole’s case, he arrived at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2013 to pursue his M.S. in Advanced Composites. One of the first individuals he met in Alabama was Vaidya, who was lured to UTK in 2015 as one of the prestigious UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chairs and Chief Technology Officer for IACMI – The Composites Institute. After graduating in 2015, Yeole followed Vaidya to UTK to pursue his Ph.D., earning it in 2020.

Chaudhary arrived in the U.S. in 2015 and followed a slightly different path. He enrolled at Pellissippi State Community College before transferring after two years to UTK where he earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering.

Now, as members of Cohort 2 of the “Spark Cleantech Accelerator” operated by the UT Research Park, they are moving forward on an area where UTK has been a leader – the use of nonwoven materials but in the composites industry. It’s also a program where Vaidya, their mentor, serves as Director of the Fibers and Composites Manufacturing Facility.

Aligned Composites Technology (ACT) specializes in creating nonwoven mats specifically designed for fiber-reinforced composites with a focus on carbon, glass, and natural fibers.

Pritesh Yeole pitching ACT at UT Chancellor’s Innovation Fund.

By precisely aligning and blending fibers, the company creates anisotropic nonwoven mats with consistent and uniform fiber distribution. With its cutting-edge solutions, sustainable practices, and commitment to excellence, Aligned Composites Technology creates lightweight, durable, and high-performance aligned nonwoven preforms for a wide range of applications including automotive, medical equipment, sporting goods, and infrastructure.

Yeole told us to think about seatbacks in cars, while Chaudhary suggested prostheses as an example.

“At Aligned Composites, our approach is to produce high-performance, cost-effective nonwoven composites that are sustainable and eco-friendly,” Chaudhary added.

The UT Research Foundation has filed a provisional patent for their unique approach of manufacturing aligned nonwoven intermediates. The approach involves mixing two different types of fibers which directly become feedstock for the manufacturing of nonwoven mats. It is also more easily scalable than other nonwoven fabrication methods such as wet-laid and air-laid processes.

The company was founded in March 2023.

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