JEC Innovation awards programme:High-modulus PAN-based carbon fibre2015-04-01

JEC Innovation awards programme:High-modulus PAN-based carbon fibre

UHT’s project is to transform general PAN-based carbon fibre into high-modulus carbon fibre. This solution provides a more efficient and convenient access to intermediate-modulus (IM) and high-modulus (HM) carbon fibres, without considering precursor quality and huge investments in a facility for the whole production line.

With a patented ultraheating technology-microwave heating, combined with resizing and a re-winding technique-a new graphitization system was built. The system focuses electromagnetic energy inside the carbon fibres and generates a huge amount of heat in a few seconds.This innovation has multiple advantages such as a 70% reduction in energy consumption, applicability to all types of PAN carbon fibres, availability of a sizing alternation, and being an environmentally friendly process.

So far, IM or HM carbon fiber products have been very expensive and well-controlled materials. This project eliminates most front investments such as precursors, oxidation and carbonization systems, along with higher energy efficiency, enabling many new types of IM and HM carbon fibre to be created at lower cost. For example, it is now possible to upgrade products like the Toray T700 grade (to an IM-grade fibre like T800, called U30S in UHT’s system (strength: 5,300 Mpa, modulus: 295 GPa) with stable quality and around 15 to 30% cost reduction.

This will encourage composite designers to perform more high-level simulations or experiments, leading to move evolution in final products. UHT began to work on this innovation in 2011, and has now successfully built a new IM CF product line with a 300 tons/year production capacity in Zhongli, Taiwan. More than 10 international patents have been set up. The next generation of PAN carbon fibre products with high and ultrahigh modulus is expected to be launched ahead of 2015 with a production capacity of 1000 tons/year. Many potential applications are possible, for instance in aeronautics, wind blades, vessels, construction, etc.

Source: JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE/ No93 December 2014