Australian carbon fiber center to partner with DowAksa

DowAksa will team with Deakin University and the Carbon Nexus facility to promote carbon for market adoption, and promote Australian expertise in materials and manufacturing.

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Australia’s carbon fiber industry growth strategy has been given a boost thanks to a new partnership between Deakin University and one of the world’s leading science and technology companies. This partnership includes new commitments at the University’s Carbon Nexus facility to advance worldwide market adoption of carbon fiber composites and promote Australian expertise in materials and manufacturing technologies to industrial composite parts makers and end users such as automotive manufacturers in North America, Europe other key export markets.
 
DowAksa, a joint venture between Aksa (Istanbul, Turkey), the world’s leading provider of acrylic fiber, and The Dow Chemical Company (Midland, Mich.) will work with Deakin’s globally unique $34 million carbon fiber research centre, Carbon Nexus, under a new agreement for collaborative research and development projects plus professional development and exchange opportunities to advance materials and manufacturing process technologies.
 
Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander announced the partnership at the third biennial Carbon Fibre Future Directions Conference, hosted by Carbon Nexus, at Geelong on Feb. 24. 

"Carbon Nexus, which we opened just on nine months ago, was strategically positioned by Deakin University as the world’s leading carbon fiber research center, directly tied to research and ready to work with industry on projects that will help drive the jobs of the future,” she said. “What we are announcing here today is a key step in the evolution of that strategy and demonstrates the critical role universities play in supporting local economies to reinvigorate and develop new economic bases.”
 
Professor den Hollander said the partnership between Deakin and DowAksa would initially include collaborative carbon fiber research projects focused on catalysing local demand for DowAksa carbon fiber, with eventual opportunities for adoption by industries globally. “The Carbon Nexus pilot line will be optimised for the output of DowAksa carbon fiber samples to support the research projects,” she said. “DowAksa and Deakin University are also expecting PhD student engagements and staff exchange and training programs as a result of the partnership agreement."
 
She added, "Carbon fiber is one of the great new value-adding opportunities for Geelong manufacturing and building a new industry takes commitment, an unwavering focus on innovation and strong partnerships between academia and industry – and that is what goes to the heart of Carbon Nexus. The willingness of global industry leaders like DowAksa to come on board shows Deakin University and Australia in general is at the forefront of innovation and is prepared to invest in cutting-edge projects that push scientific boundaries and provide real benefits for industry and communities.”

 Carbon Nexus Director Derek Buckmaster said the DowAksa partnership was a key part of the growth plan for the research facility: “We are already working in partnership with the world's first commercial maker of single-piece carbon fiber auto wheels, Carbon Revolution, which is based at our Waurn Ponds campus alongside Carbon Nexus, and recently expanded its operations,” Mr Buckmaster said.
 
He added, "We have recently welcomed Torquay-based design engineering firm 36T to work on an advanced sports engineering project in partnership with the School of Engineering. Australian carbon fiber parts manufacturer Quickstep is also setting up a dedicated automotive division at our Waurn Ponds campus to design and develop automotive manufacturing cells and enable the production of customer prototypes and initial production quantities.”

DowAksa is a charter member of US advanced composites consortium award announced last month by President Barack Obama to establish a national advanced composites manufacturing institute. Subject to final negotiations between this consortium and the US Department of Energy, the new institute being formed, called the Institute for Advanced Composites Materials Innovation (IACMI), will bring more than US$250 million in combined federal, state, corporate and academic support to accelerate the development of an advanced composites industry in the US. 

Deakin University, already a member of the Oak Ridge Carbon Fiber Composites Consortium based in Tennessee, was among one of almost 200 organizations expressing formal support for the IACMI proposal. Once the new Institute begins operations, the University hopes it will provide an extended platform for collaborative engagement and networking with business and academic leaders in the American market.