Australia joins a handful of countries able to produce carbon fiber, a development that offers the promise of a local industry mass-producing next-generation materials used in everything from aviation, defense and aerospace to car manufacturing.
Carbon fiber is made only by a handful of manufacturers globally, each of them using their own secret, patented formulas.
Now the government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, working with Deakin University, makes the breakthrough that earns Australia membership in the exclusive club.
Carbon fiber combines high rigidity, tensile strength and chemical resistance with low weight.
The material was produced using polyacrylonitrile fiber, spun on the joint CSIRO/Deakin University wet spinning line, then carbonized at Deakin’s Carbon Nexus facility.
“Cracking the carbon code will allow industry to manufacture this incredibly strong and lightweight material for the first time from scratch, using Australia’s own top-secret recipe,” CSIRO CEO Larry Marshall says in a statement.
“Together with Deakin University, we’ve created the seed to grow our manufacturing industry in Australia – generating jobs of the future built on home-grown innovation,” he says.
“From wind turbines to aerospace, even the latest Mustang wheels, a carbon-fiber industry signals the kind of reinvention needed across Australian industry, shifting our focus from raw exports to high-value products to retain our global competitive advantage.”
Australia’s first carbon fiber was created from scratch using CSIRO-produced white fiber at research facilities in Geelong, Victoria.
CSIRO Research Director John Tsanaktsidis says manufacturing carbon fiber using CSIRO-patented technology is the first step in creating stronger, higher-quality carbon fiber.
“We want to unlock carbon fiber’s full potential,” he says. “On our first attempt we created car-quality carbon fiber. We now expect to improve on that result and produce aerospace-standard carbon fiber.”