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Companies interested in testing the latest in low-cost carbon fiber have a new opportunity to partner with the Department of Energy’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF).
The CFTF, operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory as part of the Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, opened earlier this year to find ways to reduce carbon fiber production costs and to work with the private sector to stimulate widespread use of the strong, lightweight material.In its first months of operation, the CFTF used traditional raw materials to assure the new pilot scale manufacturing line would produce a commercial-quality product. With that goal accomplished, the facility now will use less expensive "precursor" materials that can be turned into carbon fiber more cost-effectively. ORNL is accepting proposals from companies that want to try out the low-cost carbon fiber to develop new products and tap markets in such areas as transportation, energy production and infrastructure.The 42,000-square-foot CFTF has the flexibility to try out different kinds of precursor materials, which typically comprise about half of carbon fiber production costs. In addition to the textile acrylic fiber now in use, CFTF researchers are experimenting with other inexpensive alternatives such as lignin, a byproduct of biorefineries and the pulp industry.The CFTF draws on ORNL’s broad portfolio of manufacturing and materials science expertise and is closely integrated with the lab’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, which offers additional equipment and resources in advanced manufacturing. Companies that would like to work with the MDF in the areas of additive manufacturing or carbon fiber and composites are invited to submit collaborative project proposals.The CFTF is supported by DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office through the Advanced Manufacturing and Vehicle Technology Offices. Industrial collaborators must provide in-kind contributions to partner with the CFTF.More information: www.ornl.gov