2nd December 2016, Düsseldorf
Japanese companies lead the field in carbon fibre production and what’s currently being developed in a government-funded project involving the country’s three major players – Toray, Teijin and Mitsubishi Rayon, along with the University of Tokyo – promises to resolve the major issue of its current high cost which is prohibiting progress in a number of industries, most notably the mass consumer car market.
Speaking at the 2nd International Composites Congress held in Dusseldorf, Germany, on November 29th, Professor Takashi Ishikawa (pictured), managing director of Japan’s National Composites Centre based at Nagoya University, spoke of new carbon fibres that are now nearing commercialisation following the Innovative Carbon Fibre Project over the past few years.
They are based on new fibre precursors which require no oxidisation and with carbonization being carried out by microwave – the key energy consuming stages in carbon fibre production which limit the output of current lines to around 2,000 tons a year – along with a dry plasma surface treatment.
“These three features, particularly the elimination of oxidisation, will result in great energy savings in carbon fibre processing, cutting energy consumption by more than fifty per cent compared to the current so-called Shindoh Process,” Professor Ishikawa said.
“This means that the lowest cost carbon fibres will be realised once full scale lines are in operation. The potential output per line will be more than 20,000 tons annually. I believe that this will usher in the dawn of a new era of a composites-driven world. The development of a new solvent soluble aromatic polymer precursor will also make it possible to manufacture hollow core carbon fibres and even floatable composites based on them.”