Carbon Fiber Technology Facility marks another milestoneJanuary 15, 2013
Oxidized carbon fiber was produced during a hot test of the oven system. January 15, 2013. Credit: ORNL.
January 15, 2013 was a big day for the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility. For the first time, technicians conducted a hot test of the oven system with a band of fibers moving through the ovens, thus producing a batch of “black” oxidized polyacrylonitrile fiber, or OPF. During this process, polymer fiber material makes multiple passes through each of four large (each approximately 30 feet long and 10 feet tall) ovens at temperatures between 200oC and 300oC. This turns the polyacrylonitrile fibers from white to black via chemical reactions that render the fibers flame resistant and enable them to withstand subsequent carbonization at much higher temperatures.
This milestone follows a very successful wrap-up of 2012. In December, the facility’s operations team, working alongside equipment suppliers, completed all testing of individual unit operations (e.g., ovens, furnaces, materials conveyance systems) as well as a series of “cold runs” to verify continuous processing capabilities. And in October, ORNL hosted a meeting of the Oak Ridge Carbon Fiber Consortium, which now counts 44 member companies. New collaborations are in the works, and working groups are gaining traction.