Breakthrough for better carbon fibre polymers

A researcher at Deakin University in Australia has reportedly found a way to improve the design and synthesis of carbon fiber precursor polymers.

Dr Nisa Salim, a researcher within Deakin’s carbon fiber research facility, Carbon Nexus, has developed polyacrylonitrile polymers which can produce fibers with improved structure and properties, using a sequential distribution of monomers in conjunction with RAFT technology.

The research could enable polymers to be created that could produce carbon fibers with improved structure and properties.

Dr Salim spent nearly two months at the Polymer School at the University of Southern Mississippi, USA, working with Professor Jeff Wiggins, whose research group has recently developed advanced protocols and customised laboratory facilities to design and synthesise the next generation of carbon fiber precursors using a variety of technologies, including semi-batch RAFT polymerisation.

The collaborative research between the Polymer School and Deakin University has led to the synthesis of nearly ten precursor polymers with high molecular weight and uniform order and distribution of co-monomers.

Shared knowledge

‘A critical challenge of wet spun fibers is the presence of voids developed during the coagulation process,’ said Dr Salim. ‘Previously, there were no reliable procedures to quantitatively measure the size and volume of pores in the fibers. The research program helped us to combine the right skills and shared knowledge to develop a method to quantify the porosity of these fibers.’

A Deakin University partnership with the Australia-based Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is now commissioning a pilot scale wet spinning facility, to be based at the University’s Waurn Ponds campus, which will complete the carbon fiber value chain from molecular level synthesis of precursors to fabrication of composite laminates using carbon fibers manufactured on-site.

This story uses material from Deakin Universitywith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.