Harper, Oak Ridge National Labs progress in carbon fiber simulation joint project

The companies have completed the first phase of the joint project, developing a computational model for low-temperature pre-carbonization furnaces.

Harper International (Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.) and Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.) have completed the first phase of their cooperative simulation work titled “Development and Validation of Simulation Capability for the High Capacity Production Carbon Fiber.The purpose is to ensure thermal processing systems provide the necessary uniformity of processing conditions to produce fiber of a certain quality, output and cost ideal for automotive applications.

In the work completed in the current phase, Harper and ORNL have developed a computational model for the low temperature pre-carbonization furnaces [LT]. The simulation model has a focused attention to the mass transfer from the fiber to the gas phase with the reaction energy. The model includes radiative heating of the fiber tows and gases, fiber and gas energy balances and effects of fiber movement and residence time. According to Harper, the coupling of fiber mass transfer to the gas phase with reaction energies and the complex heat transfer is a significant step forward in the simulation of LT carbonization. The development of comprehensive coupled modeling capability has enabled the investigation of the influence of radiation and flow physics at a significantly higher fidelity, although challenges remain in understanding the impact  that processing parameters have on  the physical properties  of carbon fiber.

“This project enabled a team composed of Harper (Tae-Seok Lee, Peter Witting) and ORNL (Srikanth Allu, Srdjan Simunovic) to advance its work as a champion of innovative carbon fiber processing technologies for markets such as mass automotive applications, now with access to world-class supercomputers and deeper scientific expertise,” says Dr. Prasad Apte, director of technology at Harper International. “We are proud to be collaborating with the pioneering thought leaders at ORNL in continuation of our strong relationship.”