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ITA receives award for making giant leaps in lightweight construction

News International-French

17 Jan 2013

ITA scientists Dr. Michael Glowania and Professor Thomas Gries have developed a material using pitch-based carbon fibers, which are aligned in a honeycomb structure. With more than 27 W/mK thermal conductivity, the composite has a heat conductivity similar to that of steel alloy.

For this discovery, Glowania and Prof Gries were awarded first prize by NRW Science Minister Svenja Schulze in in the academic competition ZukunftErfindenNRW (Future Inventions NRW) 2012. The award ceremony was held in the ThyssenKrupp Quarter in Essen on the 14th of January 2013.

This development represents a quantum leap in lightweight design and construction, that will have an impact on industries throughout the world such as automotive, aerospace and mechanical engineering. This technology allows for the future production of industrial components with high thermal conductivity and low density through the utilization of polymer infused carbon fibre. This combination drastically reduces the products final weight when compared to the use of traditional metal parts. Lighter cars and aircrafts consume much less energy a great advantage for those who want to lower the exorbitant energy costs.

Further Advantages and Applications
Not only is this new material lightweight, but it also has outstanding thermal stability with standing temperatures of up to 180 degrees Celsius. This composite is perfect for any application where lightweight construction and high thermal conductivity are crucial. The lightweight composite weighs less than aluminum and is an exciting new option for automotive and aircraft use, e.g. for the heat sink of batteries used in electric cars and other vehicles as well as in the production of helicopter tails.

ITA has developed a new lightweight approach for Industry
It has already been established that pitch-based carbon fibers, which are aligned in one direction, have a high thermal conductivity. In this orientation, carbon fiber conducts heat twice as well as copper, which is well known as one of the best conductors of heat. Previously, production of carbon fibre was very difficult due to the brittle nature of the material but now Dr. Glowania and Prof Gries have succeeded in solving this problem by a combination of the following:

  1. They made it possible to enhance the process ability of ultra-high modulus carbon fibers. This is an extremely brittle material having an elastic modulus of 950 GPa.
  2. They were able to align the fibers in the targeted component in the thickness direction thus achieving direct heat conduction as well as reducing costs and providing greater efficiency.
  3. They modified the insulating polymeric matrix, in which the carbon fibers are embedded, in order to achieve such a high heat conduction.

The newly awarded winners commented: “We are certain that we have discovered a new lightweight approach that significantly extends the application possibilities for the industry. The current patent process reinforces the fact that we have found a good opportunity for lightweight construction. We look forward to its implementation."

Background Information
The prize ZukunftErfindenNRW (Future Inventions NRW) is presented annually by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research and PROvendis, the patent marketing company for all NRW universities. The competition rewards outstanding innovations and distributes prizes totaling € 41,000. The other competition winners were university teams from TU Dortmund, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University Bonn and the University of South Westphalia.


Picture: The presentation of the first place certificate (from left to right): Prof. Dr. Robert Schmitt (RWTH), Prof. Dr. Thomas Gries (ITA), Svenja Schulze and Dr. Michael Glowania (ITA)

About the Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University:
The Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University develops textile machinery and components, as well as new materials and new processes for the production of textile. The ITA also offers training and seminars for industrial companies as well as research services together with its partner company 3T GmbH. Additionally, the ITA provides students from various disciplines in textile technology the ability to explore textile research, experience textile development and machinery hands on and offers a Dr. Ing program.

About PROvendis:
The core goals of the PROvendis are to protect, promote, and evaluate inventions from the NRW universities. PROvendis offers companies exclusive access to innovative technologies in the area of Applied Sciences and Live Sciences.

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