For the first time, Australia has the capacity to produce carbon fibre from scratch and at scale after researchers at CSIRO and Deakin University cracked the code, creating what could be the next generation of carbon fibre that is stronger and of a higher quality.
Only a handful of companies around the world can create carbon fibre, each using their own secret recipe, making this development an important milestone for Australian innovation and industry.
“We’ve created something that could disrupt the entire carbon fibre manufacturing industry,” said director of CSIRO Future Industries Anita Hill.
Australia can now carry out research across the whole carbon fibre value chain, from molecules, to polymers, to fibre, to finished composite parts, Dr Hill said.
Carbon fibre, used in aerospace, civil engineering, the military, cars and competitive sports, combines high rigidity, tensile strength and chemical resistance with low weight.
The CSIRO/ Deakin wet spinning line machinery, using patented CSIRO technology, takes a sticky mix of precursor chemicals and turns it into five hundred individual strands of fibre, each thinner than a human hair. They are then wound onto a spool to create a tape and taken to massive carbonisation ovens to create the finished carbon fibre.
The wet spinning line was custom built by an Italian company with input from the organisations’ own researchers. 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”.
“This is a great example of how collaboration in the Australian research sector can accelerate research, lead innovation and provide new job opportunities,” said Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Craig Laundy, who officially launched the “missing link” wet spinning line