Australians are great at technology and science, with a long history that includes worldwide beneficial technologies like WiFi. Get ready to add another breakthrough to the list of successes for Australia.
CSIRO and Deakin University claim to have, for the first time, created the capacity to produce carbon fibre from scratch and at scale. Carbon Fibre has all the properties you want out of a composite material, its seriously light weight, ridiculously strong. The downsides are that the process to create it is incredibly intensive which makes the material incredibly expensive.
A breakthrough in the production of carbon fibre, would be game changer and if with the technology to simplify the creation, the cost of carbon fibre could drop, dramatically and be seen in far more applications.
Right now, carbon fibre is used in hypercars and supercars, aircraft, top end road bikes, basically the places where cost isn’t the primary criteria. With a dramatic drop in the cost, it could be used in low-cost applications and where weight is a concern, like vehicle propulsion, reducing weight, while maintaining strength, means this is a critical technology development.
CSIRO and Deakin researchers have cracked the code and found the “missing link” in Australia’s carbon fibre capability. A wet spinning line (above), has been launched today in at Waurn Ponds just outside Geelong.
Only a handful of companies around the world can create carbon fibre, each using their own secret recipe. Now we have a local solution we can potentially sell to the world. The development of this technique, using patented CSIRO technology, they’ve created a “next generation” of carbon fibre that is stronger and of a higher quality.
Mass production of carbon fibre
The wet spinning line, takes a sticky mix of precursor chemicals and turns it into five hundred individual strands of fibre, each thinner than a human hair. They’re then wound onto a spool to create a tape and taken next door to the massive carbonisation ovens to create the finished carbon fibre.
The CSIRO/ Deakin wet spinning line was custom built by an Italian company with input from the organisations’ own researchers.
Director of CSIRO Future Industries, Dr Anita Hill, said,
“This facility means Australia can carry out research across the whole carbon fibre value chain: from molecules, to polymers, to fibre, to finished composite parts.
Together with Deakin, we’ve created something that could disrupt the entire carbon fibre manufacturing industry.”
Deakin University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander AO said,
“Our two organisations share a long-standing and distinguished bond, one that our new Strategic Relationship Agreement (SRA) deepens even further,” Professor den Hollander said.
Together, we’re conducting industry focussed research with a profound and lasting impact, from the communities we serve, through to the world.”
The company liked the design so much it made another for its own factory and the the CSIRO/ Deakin machine has been described as “the Ferrari of wet spinning lines”.
Of course no launch is complete without a minister cutting a ribbon, so attending today was the Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy MP who said,
“This is a great example of how collaboration in the Australian research sector can accelerate research, lead innovation and provide new job opportunities.
Geelong already has a global reputation for industrial innovation. Initiatives such as this enhance that standing.”