There are no established commercial processes to turn oil asphaltenes into a carbon fibre (CF) precursor, nor convert them to CF. Currently, approximately 95% of CF is produced using polyacrylonitrile-based (PAN) feedstock. The ability to produce CF from low value Alberta asphaltenes feedstocks can reduce the manufacturing cost of the precursor by about 90% compared to PAN and may offer material properties not open to current PAN grades. Increasing production and decreasing costs would dramatically broaden markets where CF would be economic and lead to a significant new outlet for asphaltenes from Alberta oilsands.
This project will apply Enlighten Innovations’ novel DSU® technology that utilizes sodium to remove impurities in oil that currently make it unsuitable as a precursor for CF. Our partners in this project, CarboMat, will utilize their knowledge and equipment to tackle the CF manufacturing challenge. In between, processes will be added that will improve the properties of CF precursor.
With 90% of Alberta oil used for combustion, utilizing carbon from Alberta’s asphaltene stream in a non-combustion application offers a low-cost, clean opportunity to transition Canada’s oil industry to Net Zero while opening up a new value-added market for Alberta’s resources through manufacturing.