Harper International (Buffalo, NY, US) is emphasizing at CAMX the results of its computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling to simulate the operation of ovens, low-temperature (LT) furnaces and high-temperature (HT) furnaces in a carbon fiber production line. Harper says the data show that carbon fiber producers must make special considerations in the physical dimensions, operating techniques, and design features of their production line that are highly impactful to product quality, economics, and safety. Harper says the results of a CFD modeling exercise are noteworthy because as a part of the multiple conversion steps from polyacrylonitrile (PAN) precursor to carbon fiber, the flow of gases and heat significantly affect the variation in properties of the product and the cost per kilogran of production. For example, oxidation ovens use very large volumes of air and thus power associated with heating the air. Cold air infiltration at the end slots has a significant impact on energy efficiency. Likewise, fugitive emissions that contain hydrogen cyanide are an ongoing safety concern. In the LT and HT furnaces using nitrogen gas, the distribution of temperature and gases across the furnace significantly affect the properties and coefficient of variation (CV) of the product. Harper adds that its CFD model is even more critical as the dimensions of production lines have been steadily increasing over the years from 1 to 2 to 3m to meet larger volume demands. As Carbon Fiber producers move to 4m widths and beyond for their next plant investments to meet aerospace and automotive needs, intelligence derived from CFD analysis around the flow of gases and heat will help enable the design of these large lines with improved product quality, economics, and safety in mind. Harper encourages attendees to visit its booth to learn more about this research.
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When humans do finally travel to Mars, they will have to be well protected from a less-than-hospitable environment. The suit designed to do the job is already in development at NASA, and it relies heavily on composites.