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Title: Scale-up of Novel Low-Cost Carbon Fibers Leading to High-Volume Commercial Launch

The project started in September, 2012 with the goal of scaling up from the existing laboratory scale process for producing carbon fiber (CF) from polyolefin (PO) based precursor fiber using a Dow proprietary sulfonation-desulfonation stabilization process. The award was used to develop a process that was capable of producing market development quantities of CF from PO precursor fiber at a rate of 4 kg/h of CF. The CF would target properties that met or exceeded the Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicles Technology [1] standard; i.e., 172 GPa modulus and 1.72 GPa strength at greater than or equal to 1% strain. The Dow proprietary process was capable of meeting and exceeding these targets properties. Project DE-EE0005760 resulted from a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between Dow and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and DOE. In the first budget period, the main goal was to design a sulfonation-desulfonation market development plant capable of stabilizing PO precursor fiber at a rate of 5 kg/h using a sulfonation solution. The detailed design, location, and cost estimate were determined as scheduled in the Project Management Plan (PMP). In parallel with this DOE award project wasmore » a fundamentals and economic evaluation funded by The Dow Chemical Company (Dow). The goal of the Dow sponsored project was to finalize the mass balances, energy balances, and levelized cost to produce CF using the Dow process. A Go-No-Go decision was scheduled in June, 2013 based on the findings of the DOE sponsored scale up project and the Dow sponsored project. In June, 2013, Dow made the No-Go decision to halt and abandon the Dow proprietary sulfonation-desulfonation process for stabilizing PO precursor fibers for the manufacturing of CF. This No-Go decision was identified in the original proposal and at the start of this project, and the decision was made as scheduled. The decision was based on the high levelized economic cost of the process relative to the manufacture of CF from polyacrylonitrile (PAN) precursor fibers. The capital required to sulfonate the fibers adds a significant cost to the process due to the need for investment in a sulfuric acid recovery plant. This high additional capital over the capital for a PAN based CF plant, reduces the levelized economic cost to slightly advantaged over PAN based CF. The sulfonation-desulfonation stabilization route failed to meet the Dow’s return on investment criterion and the cost advantage target set forth for the DOE project. The DOE and Dow decided to halt spending on the project until a new PO fiber stabilization process could be identified that met the DOE physical properties standard and the levelized economic cost constraints of Dow. When the new technology was developed, then award DE-EE0005760 would be re-started with the same goals of the development of a market development plant capable of producing CF at 4 kg/h with the properties that met or exceed those set forth by the Department of Energy Vehicles Technology standard. Progress on the development of the new process has been slow and thus has delayed the scale up project. Dow’s efforts to date have not progressed to the point of demonstrating a commercially-viable process for production of low cost CF from PO precursors for Dow’s rigorous economic constraints. After extensive discussions within Dow and consultation with DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) Headquarters and Golden Field Office teams, Dow has decided to proceed with the formal recommendation to terminate subject project. DOE’s AMO Headquarters and Golden Field Office teams agreed with the termination of the project.« less
  1. The Dow Chemical Company
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
The Dow Chemical Company
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Advanced Manufacturing Office (EE-2F)
Contributing Orgs:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN, Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, MI.
Country of Publication:
United States