The results offer industry-disrupting opportunities for carbon fiber manufacturers, demonstrating the ability to produce better carbon fiber while spreading capital and operating costs over three times the production capacity. 4M is exploring ways to license this technology to end users worldwide.
In collaboration with Formosa Plastics Corporation, a commercial carbon fiber producer, and the Department of Energy’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN, 4M’s team oxidized Formosa’s precursor using the internationally-patented technology developed by 4M and ORNL. The fiber was then carbonized, surface-treated, and sized at the CFTF. The carbon fiber properties were then tested at the CFTF using industrial testing methodology. The initial trial showed that the fiber exhibits higher tensile properties than carbon fiber produced via conventional technology for that specific precursor.
4M believes that these results enhance 4M’s value proposition by showing that plasma oxidation can positively impact carbon fiber properties.
4M Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Truman Bonds, commented:
“We have yet to optimize our process for this precursor, so we believe that there is still room for processing speed improvement and even better carbon fiber properties. 4M intend to continue technology licensing discussions with several carbon fiber manufacturers and new entrants, and we hope to finalize and announce a strategic partnership soon.”
4M’s next step in the plasma oxidation commercialization process is to complete a $20 million pilot plant to produce samples requested by auto makers, trucking companies, container manufacturers, and carbon fiber producers. The pilot plant should allow 4M to operate closer to commercial scales and produce quantities large enough for carbon fiber manufacturers to make decisions about licensing the technology. The company also anticipates that this pilot plant project will best position it to support building production capacity with partners who license the technology.
Companies: 4M Carbon Fiber Corp