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Biorenewable Biopolymers for Use as Carbon Fiber Precursors
Category(s):
For Information, Contact:
Craig Forney
Commercialization Manager, Chemistry and Materials Sciences
515-294-4740
licensing@iastate.edu
Web Published:
6/1/2015
ISURF #
4056
Summary:
Iowa State University researchers have developed a method for improved processing of lignin to enable extraction of small diameter fibers that are suitable for converting into carbon fibers.

Development Stage:
The feasibility of the process for blending lignin and PLA to produce continuously spun carbon fibers has been demonstrated. The fibers have been characterized using dynamic mechanical analysis, morphology, and thermogravimetric analysis, and ISU is seeking commercialization partners for this technology.

Description:
As a result of their stiffness and strength, fiber reinforced polymer matrix composites (PMCs) are an important class of materials for advanced structural applications, such as the blades on wind turbines.  The composites used for wind turbine blades currently primarily have fiberglass as the reinforcing component in the thermoset polymer resins. However, despite having advantages of low cost, adequate strength and stiffness, and high failure strain, glass fibers tend to have high density and low fatigue ratios, which constrains the dimensions and limits the performance of wind turbine blades.  Carbon fibers—which have excellent mechanical properties, high fatigue ratios, and low densities—represent an attractive solution for increasing the load bearing capacity of wind turbine blades without increasing their overall weight.  However, the high cost of carbon fibers, which are made from polyacrylnitrile polymers, has restricted their use in wind energy applications.  To overcome this drawback, ISU researchers have developed a simple method for producing biorenewable fibers from lignin-polylactide (PLA) blends as precursors for carbon fibers.  This simple process involves spinning modified lignin-PLA blends into robust, fine lignin fibers.  Since both lignin and PLA are derived from natural materials, this approach offers a much more environmentally friendly and cost-effective method to produce fibers with desired surface characteristics and mechanical properties for sophisticated structural functions.

Advantage:
• Economical (lignin is abundant and inexpensive compared to other carbon fiber sources)
• Facile (fibers can be processed by simple techniques, further reducing costs)
Application:
Production of Fibers for Fiber Reinforced Polymer Matrix Composites

References:
Patent Information:
*To see the full version of the patent(s), follow the link below, then click on "Images" button.
Country Serial No. Patent No. Issued Date
United States 14/048,532 9,340,425* 5/17/2016


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