Deakin University's Carbon Nexus facility has produced the first commercial output of carbon fibre items.
The university has signed an agreement with Geelong-based manufacturer Carbon Revolution which has pioneered the development of carbon fibre wheels.
As reported in The Australian Financial Review, the new deal will enable it to lift production from several thousand sets per annum to 250,000, and will be a major boost for the manufacturing region of Geelong in Victoria.
Currently, the carbon fiber composites industry is estimated at U$10 billion globally and is expected to reach U$40 billion by 2022.
It has been reported that Dow-Aksa will consider building a world scale plant in the Geelong region. Dow-Aksa is a joint venture of Dow Chemical and Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii of Turkey.
Such a plant would cost around $220 million, create 250 direct jobs and encourage the high-tech manufacturing industry in the region.
Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) is a super strong and lightweight material that is gaining increasing favour with engineers, according to Carbon Revolution.
In tension, for a given weight of material, it’s at least three times stronger and stiffer than steel, aluminium or titanium. Carbon fibers are basically very thin strands of carbon, much thinner even than a human hair. All the individual fibers are bunched together in what is called carbon fiber tow.
Each tow can have between 2,000 and 50,000 individual fibers in the bunch. This tow material is then woven or stitched together to create different carbon fiber cloth materials. The tow can also be used directly to manufacture certain parts.
The step between these dry tow and fabric materials and a finished solid material is the introduction and curing of a resin to turn the carbon fiber into a CFRP.
[Image courtesy: Carbon Revolution]