As part of a new manufacturing initiative to boost U.S. competitiveness through the clean energy sector, the Department of Energy launched a state-of-the-art carbon fiber technology facility earlier this year at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Before thousands of spectators at the world’s largest air show, Airbus SAS introduced its newest airliner, the A350 XWB. The twin-engine wide-body flew over Le Bourget Airport in Paris earlier today, one week after its maiden flight. Airbus has secured more than 600 orders for three versions of the aircraft, according to company documents.

 Beneath the blue and white company livery, the A350’s airframe is composed of 72 percent lightweight materials like aluminum and titanium alloys. The most important material, however, is carbon fiber reinforced polymer, making up more than 53 percent of the airframe.

The increase in lightweight components in aircraft signals how commercial aviation targets have shifted from larger, farther, faster to cheaper, quieter, more efficient. Though the materials themselves are not new, the technology and the commercial demand for them have recently aligned. That makes advanced materials like carbon fiber essential to staking out a competitive edge in an international arena.

As part of a new manufacturing initiative to boost U.S. competitiveness through the clean energy sector, the Department of Energy launched a state-of-the-art carbon fiber technology facility earlier this year at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The facility, supported by a $35 million DOE grant, will serve as a testbed for the development of cheaper, better-performing carbon fiber materials.

Source: Scientific American | Umair Irfan , Julia Pyper and ClimateWire