Tuesday 2 August 2011

Prices of carbon-fibre to drop

With strict CAFE standards coming soon, car manufactures are looking to make their cars more fuel-efficient. While most are looking at turbocharging/supercharging vehicles, some may opt for carbon fibre. Suppliers are already predicting high demand and increasing production. Additionally, they're also looking at cutting costs for the high strength, lightweight material.

No fewer than 14 companies have announced an association with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to create a new sort of carbon fibre that would cost around $6/lb, compared with the current $15 to $20.

There are many reasons why carbon fibre is costly; the raw polymer thread is made from pricey petrochemicals, its change into fabric requires lots of energy and the manufacturing of parts is time-consuming. To reduce costs, the syndicate is experimenting with a mixture of cheaper raw materials. The top-runner is lignin, which is a low-cost byproduct of the conversion of wood pulp into paper.

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