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The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research has received the DOE grant to continue its leading-edge research in developing low-cost, high-strength carbon fiber.

Stephen Moore

July 3, 2017

2 Min Read
$1-million grant for low-cost carbon fiber research at University of Kentucky

The Carbon Materials Technologies Group of the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research has received a $1 million grant for a project titled, "Precursor Processing Development for Low Cost, High Strength Carbon Fiber for Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel Applications." The funding was part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) strategy to invest in discovery and development of novel, low-cost materials necessary for hydrogen storage and for fuel cells onboard light-duty vehicles.

Matt Weisenberger, associate director of UK CAER’s Carbon Materials Technologies Group, showcases the center’s unique carbon fiber spinning capabilities.

The team will investigate solutions to critical issues in precursor fiber development that significantly contribute to the cost of carbon fiber, namely high polymer cost, inefficient water use and solvent recovery, low fiber throughput, energy intensive conversion, and high coefficient of variation (CV) utilizing their unique expertise and fiber development facility available at CAER. The center is home to the largest carbon fiber spinline at any university in North America.

If successful, the project will lower the cost of high quality carbon fibers by over 50 percent, opening opportunities for widespread application of carbon fibers in previously cost-prohibited areas, specifically in composite overwrapped pressure vessels for hydrogen storage.

"We appreciate DOE's confidence in our carbon fiber research and development efforts here at UK CAER,” said Matt Weisenberger, associate director of the Carbon Materials Technologies Group. "It is our hope that this project will show great promise for the future of carbon fiber for pressure vessels and many other commercial applications. A strong, vibrant and growing carbon fiber industry shows potential for creating new jobs and economic opportunities in Kentucky."

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office awarded a total of 30 grants valued at $15.8 million overall during its annual funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in 2017. The 2017 FOA solicited early-stage materials research to advance the department’s goals of enabling economic and efficient transportation via fuel cell electric vehicles that use hydrogen fuel produced from diverse domestic resources.

More than 2,000 fuel cell vehicles have been sold or leased in the U.S. since 2015. These consume 95 percent less petroleum per mile than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, have no tailpipe emissions, and offer quiet operation.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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