Alternative biobased precursors for a sustainable and affordable production of carbon fibres
The starting grant “Alternative biobased precursors for a sustainable and affordable production of carbon fibres” aims at developing more sustainable carbon fibres.
Current carbon fibres are based on Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) which is an expensive raw material. Furthermore, PAN can only be processed in wet-spinning process which has a low output and is a complex process due to a solvent that is necessary but has to be recycled. In this project, AMIBM will develop a biobased precursor that can be converted into a carbon fibre using the more efficient and economic melt spinning process. Potential material alternatives are biobased Polyethylene and lignin.
The challenge of lignin based precursor fibres is, that they are extremely brittle and the reactivity (crosslinking) cannot be fully controlled, due to the different qualities and properties of natural lignin. A constant quality of the raw material has to be created by different treatment methods. For various lignin grades there must be an investigation of needed processing steps. Also the melt spinning process of lignin with different additives has to be investigated.
The overall goal of this project is to produce a melt spinnable bio based precursor for carbon fibres out of lignin blends. This new precursor material should be cheaper than the existing PAN precursor material.
The project is strongly interlinked with the other research groups at AMIBM. The group of prof. dr. Rainer Fisher will support the modification of the lignin and the group of prof. dr. Sanjay Rastogi will be able to use the biobased carbon fibres in their project BIO-BASED ADHESIVES FOR COMPOSITES (BIOAC) to establish a biobased carbon fibre with biobased sizing (adhesive). The topic carbon fibres will allow on the one hand to attract third party funding and on the other hand strengthen the cooperation between AMIBM and RWTH Aachen because the infrastructure for carbon fibre conversion is located at RWTH Aachen University.