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Breakthrough development of next-generation carbon fibre by Carbon Nexus and CSIRO has received international attention, with a magazine showcase feature commending the Geelong-based innovation.

Ohio-based CompositesWorld, which boasts more than 30,000 subscribers and more than 280,000 online page views each month, commended the work in a feature as part of its “what’s happening in fibre-reinforced composites” global research. The magazine noted that “The whole carbon fibre process chain is being revolutionized at Geelong.”

CSIRO focuses on the first steps of carbon fibre production, including polymerisation and spinning of PAN precursor on the joint CSIRO/Deakin University wet-spinning line, while Carbon Nexus focuses on the final steps, including oxidation and carbonisation.

CSIRO researchers aim to control the molecular structure and processing of polyacrylonitrile (PAN) precursor to maximise carbon fibre strength, which is mainly limited by defects in the fibre surface and microstructure and impurities in the precursor.

This will result in higher quality and performance, yet more affordable carbon fibres for the market, which is growing by 10% a year.

CSIRO is aiming for a 20% gain in strength in aerospace-grade carbon fibre and is producing bespoke fibres for specific end applications by engineering the PAN and carbonised product. Six different precursor formulations are being tested and will be “carbonised” by Carbon Nexus, with results possible by the end of this year.

Both CSIRO and Carbon Nexus work with the local composites industry as part of the Advanced Fibre Cluster Geelong, which includes well-known composites manufacturers such as Carbon Revolution and Quickstep — also located on the Waurn Ponds campus — as well as GMS Composites, Sykes Racing, ACS Composites and others.

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Carbon Nexus is a purpose-built research facility designed to accommodate the diverse needs of international manufacturing organisations that require the cost-effective resolution of carbon fibre-related projects.

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