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Low Cost Carbon Fiber Material

Problem: Because Vapor Grown Carbon Fiber (VGCF) is generated in a different form than conventional carbon fiber, standard composite processing cannot be applied to produce VGCF composites. Thus, new fabrication methods are needed in order to exploit the properties of VGCF in applications such as electronic packaging and molded automotive components. The price of fiber currently inhibits the use of carbon composites outside the defense aerospace industry except for more exotic sports applications. Conventional carbon fibers cost $40.00/lb.

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Solution: The Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (AFRL/ML) has agreed to develop, in collaboration with Applied Sciences, Inc. polymeric or carbon matrix composites incorporating vapor grown carbon fibers. Exhibiting very high stiffness and thermal conductivity without high temperature heat treatment, they are potentially much less costly to produce than conventional continuous fiber. The vapor grown carbon fibers could cost as little as $3.00/lb and are approximately 150 times smaller in diameter than conventional carbon fibers. The use of vapor grown fiber composites is expected to enable production cost reductions for both military and commercial applications.


Benefits:

  • The combination of gains in physical properties of carbon fiber re-enforced composites at reduced weight and production costs promises to have a large impact on the weight, reliability and costs of electronics, automobiles and aerospace vehicles.
  • Electronics and computers will benefit from the superior heat transfer of these composites in chip substrates and heat sinks. Success in this program could open huge markets for Applied Sciences, Inc.
  • The Air Force will benefit from the use of these materials in military aircraft. The Air Force also earns a royalty for AFRL's work in this Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

Current Status:

  • Fiber surface properties inhibiting composite fabrication have been identified.
  • The correlation of growth parameters with fiber surface properties is now well understood and improved fibers are being grown.
  • Improved fibers have been delivered to AFRL/ML and Applied Sciences, Inc. and the fabrication  of higher quality composites will be forthcoming.
If you have any questions about this Cooperative Research and Development Agreement or are interested in getting more information about technology transfer and CRADA projects, please contact Jim Singer at Wright Technology Network (937) 253-0217 or CRADA@wtn.org

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