Australian industry could soon mass-produce the next generation materials thanks to a carbon fibre breakthrough achieved by CSIRO scientists in collaboration with their peers from Deakin University.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday, CSIRO’s Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall announced that the researchers have successfully produced ‘Australia’s first entirely home-grown carbon fibre’, paving the way for the much needed reinvention across Australian industry.
“Cracking the carbon code will allow industry to manufacture this incredibly strong and lightweight material for the first time from scratch, using Australia’s own top secret recipe,” Dr Marshall said.
“Together with Deakin University, we’ve created the seed to grow our manufacturing industry in Australia – generating jobs of the future built on home-grown innovation.”
Currently only a handful of manufacturers around the world possess the capability to produce carbon fibre, each of whom hold their own patented recipes.
According to Dr Marshall, having its own top secret recipe will allow Australia to shift its focus from raw exports to high value products to retain its global competitive advantage.
“This is another chapter in the innovation history of Geelong, where Australia’s first carbon fibre was created from scratch using CSIRO produced white fibre. It’s a major leap forward in turning the region into an international carbon fibre hub,” he said.
Carbon fibre, which is used in everything from aviation and defence to space and car manufacturing, combines high rigidity, tensile strength and chemical resistance with low weight.
CSIRO Research Director Dr John Tsanaktsidis said Australia’s first carbon fibre was produced using polyacrylonitrile fibre, spun on the joint CSIRO/ Deakin University wet spinning line, then carbonised at Deakin’s Carbon Nexus facility.
He said the research team will now focus on unlocking the carbon fibre’s full potential.
“On our first attempt we created car-quality carbon fibre – we now expect to improve on that result and produce aerospace standard carbon fibre,” Mr Tsanaktsidis continued.
“CSIRO’s Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap, released in November 2016, called on Australian industry to play to its strengths by focusing on high value advanced manufacturing. Creating a future industry based on carbon fibre is an excellent example of bringing that to life.”