Reducing the cost of carbon fibers in vehicles

An estimated 90 percent of carbon fibers, which make composite materials of exceptional strength and reduced weight, come from polyacrylonitrile, and their cost is prohibitive for high-volume use in automobile production. Dow® Chemical, Midland, Mich., and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, Tenn., have joined forces to develop a polyolefin-based carbon filter precursor in an attempt to make low-cost carbon fiber for use in automotive composite parts. Dow has signed an agreement with carbon fiber manufacturer AKSA, Instanbul, Turkey, to “create fully integrated production facilities for the manufacture and global supply of carbon fibers and derivatives,” according to Dow. The company received a $5 million grant from the Centers of Energy Excellence through the State of Michigan to accelerate manufacturing process innovation to make carbon fiber cost-effective for industrial uses, such as wind and transportation.

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