Dow to Develop Carbon Fiber Production Process

The Dow Chemical Company, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Ford Motor Company will collaborate to develop a low-cost carbon fiber production process.

oakridgeAs part of the Obama Administration’s blueprint for an American economy built to last, the Energy Department has announced investments that support American leadership and global competitiveness in manufacturing, including some plastics-related research.

The DOE awarded more than $54 million – leveraging approximately an additional $17 million in cost share from the private sector – for 13 projects across the country to advance transformational technologies and materials that can help American manufacturers “dramatically increase the energy efficiency of their operations and reduce costs.”

Projects selected for awards of particular interest to the plastics sector include research into a new continuous manufacturing process to make high molecular weight, high thermal conductivity polyethylene fibers and sheets to replace metals and ceramics parts in heat transfer equipment. Also, because polyethylene’s density is 35% less than aluminum, the new materials developed as part of this project could generate fuel savings in vehicle applications. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will carry out the research with a DOE award valued at $1 million, with cost-share of $29,350.

The Dow Chemical Company will be sponsored to the tune of $9 million to develop a lower cost carbon fiber production process that uses polyolefin in place of conventional polyacrylonitrile as the feedstock. Low-cost carbon fiber has widespread application in automobiles, wind turbines, and various other industrial applications. Collaborators include Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Ford Motor Company, and the partners will contribute $4,500,432.

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Source: Staff | Plastics Today
Image: Oak Ridge National Laboratory