Australia now manufactures carbon fibre

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  • Plant & Equipment

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Australia has joined the ranks of a small number of countries able to manufacture carbon fibre, thanks to a new breakthrough from CSIRO and Deakin University.

Using patented technology, CSIRO and Deakin researchers have created a new type of carbon fibre that is of higher quality and strength than is presently made elsewhere.

A new Victorian manufacturing facility is the first plant in Australia to use CSIRO’s recipe for production of the lightweight material.

The new plant in Waurn Ponds, on the south-west side of Geelong, has a wet spinning line and the capability to produce high-quality carbon fibre at scale.

CSIRO explains that carbon fibre combines high rigidity, tensile strength and chemical resistance with low weight and is used in aerospace, civil engineering, the military, cars and in competitive sports.

The wet spinning line machinery takes a sticky mix of precursor chemicals and turns it into 500 individual strands of fibre, each thinner than a human hair.

These are then wound onto a spool to create a tape and taken next door to the massive carbonisation ovens to create the finished carbon fibre.

CSIRO director of future industries Dr Anita Hill says the breakthrough is a strong entrance into a significant global industry.

"This facility means Australia can carry out research across the whole carbon fibre value chain: from molecules, to polymers, to fibre, to finished composite parts," Hill says.

"Together with Deakin, we’ve created something that could disrupt the entire carbon fibre manufacturing industry." 

Deakin University vice-chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO says the development is a great example of what Deakin and CSIRO could achieve together, for the benefit of all of Australia.

"Our two organisations share a long-standing and distinguished bond, one that our new Strategic Relationship Agreement (SRA) deepens even further," Den Hollander says.

"Together, we’re conducting industry focussed research with a profound and lasting impact, from the communities we serve, through to the world."

The CSIRO/ Deakin wet spinning line was custom built by an Italian company with input from the organisations’ own researchers.

The company liked the design so much it made another for its own factory.

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