Dow, Oak Ridge National Laboratory developing polyolefin-based carbon fiber precursor

Technical news service ICIS reports that Dow Chemical and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working together to develop a carbon fiber precursor based on polyelefins to help reduce the cost of carbon fiber.

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Technical news service ICIS reported on Jan. 9 that Dow Chemical (Midland, Mich., USA) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL, Oak Ridge, Tenn., USA) are working together to develop a carbon fiber precursor based on polyelefins. According to the report, the goal of the cooperation is development of low-cost carbon fiber for use in automotive applications. 

"Widespread use of carbon fiber for high-volume automobile production will require significant reduction in the carbon fiber composites processing costs in addition to the carbon fiber cost," a company official at Dow told ICIS. "We anticipate that our material science capabilities combined with strategic partnerships will be key enablers of the carbon fiber composite systems and solutions in the automotive sector," he adds.

The ORNL collaboration is progressing well, the Dow official told ICIS. About 90 percent of the carbon fibers produced today are made from polyacrylonitrile (PAN). In February 2010, Dow received a $5m (€4m) grant from the Centers of Energy Excellence (COEE) program through the State of Michigan to help accelerate manufacturing process innnovation to make carbon fiber cost-effective for industrial uses, such as wind and transportation.

Dow signed a deal with carbon fiber manufacturer AKSA (Istanbul, Turkey) on Dec. 20 to form a joint venture to manufacture and globally commercialize carbon fiber. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in June 2011. "Through this agreement, both companies announced plans to work together to explore opportunities to create fully integrated production facilities for the manufacture and global supply of carbon fibers and derivatives," says the Dow official.

During the period of the MOU, AKSA and Dow have been identifying, evaluating and discussing various opportunities related to the formation of the new venture, including various manufacturing and commercialization plans.

Click here for original ICIS report.