International, a designer of thermal processing solutions for advanced
materials based in Lancaster, N.Y., has finalized a contract with the
U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for a full
pilot scale carbon fiber process line valued at greater than US$12
million. The line is a custom designed conversion process to support
ORNL’s Low Cost Carbon Fiber research and technology transfer. The
facility, to be a collaborative research center, is designed as one of
the most sophisticated and capable facilities in the industry.
was selected for the contract on the basis of its ability to
successfully design, manufacture, install, and commission a fully
integrated carbon fiber process line. Harper was chosen after an open
public tender as the technical and implementation partner for
engineering, process equipment, installation and startup of the line
which will support operation under multiple precursor platforms.
custom-designed line incorporates Harper’s proprietary multi-flow
oxidation oven technology, advanced LT and HT slot furnaces rated for
1000°C and 2000°C respectively, pre and post-treatment fiber
conditioning, gas treatment and handling, and material transport
systems. Harper focuses on holistic designs to link the process steps,
ensuring optimal performance.
of ORNL’s initiatives is directed towards the utilization of lignin as a
precursor to enable low cost production of carbon fibers. Lignin is a
renewable resource material that is separated from paper mill and/or
biorefinery cellulose and considerably less costly than traditional
precursor material. The primary objective is to develop more
energy-efficient, cost-effective materials and processes for production
of affordable carbon fibers for use in composite materials for
high-volume energy applications such as vehicles. Carbon fiber
composites would substantially reduce vehicle weight, decrease fuel
consumption, and result in lower greenhouse gas emissions. The
conversion line designed by Harper is capable of processing traditional
PAN precursor as well as emerging feedstock, such as lignin.
for the equipment was appropriated through the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act via DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
Energy Vehicle Technologies Program.
SOURCE: Harper International