Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - FIBRALSPEC (Fuctionalised Innovative Carbon Fibres Developed from Novel Precursors With Cost Efficiency and Tailored Properties)

Project Context and Objectives:
Innovative processes with streamlining and improved control are conducted in FIBRALSPEC, through a Unit for Continuous PAN-based Carbon Fiber Pilot Production. The continuous stabilization line setup has been accomplished and initial tests were undertaken with reference material in order to adjust operation parameters. The line is a fully automated continuous system, operation is achieved via touch control panel capable of simulating industrial production processes with high accuracy concerning on temperature and tension control (PLC automation). As well, the unique mechano-electro-spinner (MES) has been designed and constructed and it is now fully operational. Novel Carbon Fiber precursors based on new materials and methodologies are developed (textile-grade PAN, polyolefins, and lignin); in parallel, the suitability of a new environmentally friendly pitch will be assessed, obtained from anthracene oil, for the preparation of isotropic carbon fibers. Efforts are also dedicated to the surface, functionalization, mainly focused on cost reduction and improvement of mechanical and chemical properties of Carbon Fibers. The project’s carbon fiber conversion technology will be pyrolysis process to convert PAN precursor fiber into PAN-based carbon fiber and activated carbon fiber. Testing of laminates and prepregs production based on the new developed carbon fibres followed by manufacturing of laminates/coupons and high-performance filament wound tubes are also foreseen (equipment for delivering precise volumes the matrix (resin) in high andlow-capacity to impregnate the fibres and bundles will be developed). As for recycling and used of recycled CFs, new techniques will be used to provide commercially-relevant products that are manufactured from waste carbon fibres. Computational modeling has been conducted and protocols for analyzing fiber/matrix interface and Novel CFRPs have been developed. Life cycle assessment and End of Life Treatment are used to quantify the environmental impact of the materials that will be used and products that are developed within the framework of FIBRALSPEC. Industrial partnership will ensure the impact of the research efforts, convincingly proving scalability towards industrial needs of two high demanding applications, namely medium technology – large scale (Rapid Deployment Secure Emergency Shelter (RDSES)) and high technology – small scale (supercapacitor).

Project Results:
In this reporting period, the following have been achieved:

• Wet spinning process of PAN and the complete setting of stabilization line (Wet spinning of PAN into fiber, Stabilization of house and commercial PAN fiber)
• Μelt- and Dry-spinning of lignin, lignin based blends and co-polymers, Nanomaterials mixing
• Screening Results and Final Selection of Precursors
• The optimization of PAN and ligninocellulosic oxidative stabilization, subsequent pyrolysis and graphitization
• Operational-mechano-electro spinner-Provision of design concept-Commence assembly-Supply prototype
• Report on Electrospinning PAN and the Subsequent Production of CNFs
• Hazardous report
• Complete study on lignin and polymer blending and lignin chemical treatment as well (Lignin modifications (Phthalic, Maleic anhydrite etc.)) Extended study on development of a novel synthetic polymer with aromatic structure as novel CF precursor.
• Single fibres produced based on viscous fiber and studied their properties (diameter of single fiber, tensile strength, study of surface layer) according to previously developed methodologies.
• Production for textured (bulk) filaments using directed shrinkage of textile viscose yarns
• Technical Report on the electrochemical treatment and the electropolymerization
• Plasma treatment of the carbon fibres
• Development of novel active screen plasma (ASP) technique for CFs (modification in N, Ar, H) and CNFs (Ni/Ag deposition)
• Report on specific modules concerning the different analysis performed ISO Standards (Monitoring)
• Strategies for Recycling Starting, Intermediate and Final Product Waste
• Microplastics and composites based on commercial and nanomodified coupling agent reinforced by carbon fibers, carbon yarns and weft-knitted fabrics had been produced.
• Textured bulk carbon yarns had been produced using direct shrinkage of textile viscose yarns, screening from electromagnetic radiation and structural properties of such yarns, weft-knitted fabrics produced from such yarns and combined woven textiles containing bulk carbon yarns had been studied.
• The materials synthesis and the various processes are supported by experimental techniques such as OM, FESEM-EDS, EDS, XPS, TGA/DSC, and IR, RAMAN, Contact angle, XRD and TEM. Study the electrical resistivity and magnetic susceptibility of carbon particles doped by cobalt.
• A methodology was developed to measure the degree of alignment of the carbon fibre microstructure
• Fabrication of electrodes, prototypes and tests of physic-chemical characteristics answering the specifications
• Supercapacitors have been characterized. Various mixtures with different nanomaterials were used
• Significantly improved electrochemical performance of CNFs by ASP surface multi-functionalisation.
• A prototype has been encapsulated and tests performed.
• Good progress was made with the micro-mechanical interaction between CFs and matrix via nano-indentation test and work is on to investigate the chemical interaction between the CFs and matrix. This was achieved using nano-indentation push-in and push-out tests, and the data are used as an input in modelling activities utilizing a finite element model via the ANSYS 16.0) program taking into account the properties of fiber/matrix interface.
• A comprehensive model which relates to physical and chemical processes with structure in order to monitor and control the progress of PAN stabilization in a continuous oxidation line.

Within framework of FS the main product oriented research achievements are:

• Supercapacitors based on Carbon Nano Fibers (CNFs) for next generation energy storage devices. A prototype of advanced flexible supercapacitor will be delivered Electronics, Automotive, Aviation market (Technology is already upscaled)
• A prototype of Operational Mechano-Electro Spinner has been designed, tested and delivered. The software has been developed and a fully detailed operator and maintenance manual has been supplied (Carbon fiber industry, Polymer/Comp industry, Textile Ind.) Electronics and automation is identified as unique in UK and already attracted industrial interest
• A continuous stabilization line (for oxidation treatment of Cfs precursors) has been designed, manufactured and delivered. The line is a fully automated continuous system, operation is achieved via touch control panel capable of simulating industrial production processes with high accuracy concerning on temperature and tension control. Cost analysis will be performed during the next period (Carbon fiber industry Polymer industry) (Pilot line set up and working properly)
• Green precursors of carbon fibres based on lignin and blends have been synthesized. Subsequently have been spun via dry and melt methods (Carbon fiber industry Polymer industry) (Technology will be upscaled)
• Production of carbon fibers with enhanced properties developed within the framework of the project operations of nanoprofiling and nanomodification using nanoparticles produced from plant raw materials (New technological facility for CF industry) (Pilot line set up and working properly)
• Protocols for analyzing fiber/matrix interface mechanical behavior with a fast, local, non-destructive method (Carbon fiber industry, Polymer industry, Research Institutes) (Software is under development)
• Novel composites based on CFs with enhanced properties (new nanoprofiled fibers and fibers with new nanomodified glazing) together with nanomodified binders (Composite industry) (Pilot line set up and working properly)

Potential Impact:
The expected results from Fibralspec project will reveal new perspectives concerning on carbon fiber (CF) production in Europe and utility in numerous technological applications. CF industry experts reveal that Europe is the leader concerning on CFs consumption. According to a new market report CF market seems to present great opportunities in several applications and from 2016 to 2021 an 11% growth is expected. By 2020, Europe and Asia will demonstrate the biggest demand share. This can be attributed to the sustained demand for highly efficient light weight materials; vehicles from aircrafts to conventional cars focus on minimum fuel consumption and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics (CFRP) provide this lightweight potential. Additionally, Europe comes third when compared with North America and Asia on manufacturing capacity; there is an emerged competition impact on which Fibralspec project targets.
State of the art precursor for CF is polyacrilonitrile (PAN) which is overpriced comparing with other precursors. The aforementioned material is petroleum-based, (cost depends from oil price), but the final product demonstrates enhanced properties. The purpose of Fibralspec project is to produce CF from ‘green’ raw materials and manufacture composites incorporating these fibers using environmentally friendly techniques. Specifically, the target is to replace existing CF precursors with low-cost raw materials such as lignin from sustainable sources. The aforementioned “green materials” contribute to cost breakdown of the final product. Efforts have already been made to produce CF from lignin and the conclusion is that this is a promising material but needs further investigation concerning on its processing.

Fibralspec project results on four final products which are supercapacitors, Rapid Deployment Secure Emergency Shelter (RDSES), Weft CF and CF. Supercapacitors mainly target on aviation industry and the purpose is to replace the cables in order to reduce the weight. Carbon nanofibers are attractive candidates for this application considering the low cost. Also, the produced CF from this project will be implemented at RDSES manufacturing. Fibralspec project will create an impact on market through the acquired knowledge, will contribute to unemployment by providing experienced personnel and will make European CF industry more competitive. Fibralspec project highlighted the need for a CF cluster consisting of scientific and industry experts, who will cooperatively indicate an innovative way of collaboration between market and research through knowledge provision in order to enhance the market.

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