Development of Lower-Cost High-Value Carbon Fibres from Alberta Bitumen Derived Feeds

University of British Columbia

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Vancouver, BC and Edmonton, AB

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Bitumen derived carbon fibres provide a route to not only create low-cost high-performance fibres for clean tech, but reduce the carbon footprint of carbon fibre production. Based on scientific advancement, the project aims at the development of functional carbon fibre prototypes for applications such as electromagnetic shielding for battery cases, conductive filaments for anodes, 3-D printed carbon fibre reinforced components, and higher strength and stiffness multifilament yarns for structural composites. The team will build upon their fibre processing strategies to increase both throughput and fibre properties. The research team involves asphaltenes producers that can help control the chemistry of the bitumen feeds across the spectrum to end-users that require certain specification of carbon fibre for applications in automotive and composite industries. With being able to control the chemistry of the bitumen feeds, clear structure-property relationships of the Alberta oilsands bitumen based carbon fibre will be developed in order to create useful materials for end-user applications. Research activities will involve both melt spinning of multifilament yarns and novel spinning techniques resulting in sub-micron scale non-woven fibre. Fibre conditioning, stabilization, and carbonization, and in some applications, graphitization, will be optimized to create useful materials for the end-users. Close examination of the fibre structure under the different processing steps will allow a complete understanding of the design window to maximize performance of the fibres. As well, new approaches for fibre surface sizing and modification will maximize performance of prototype composites. The research conducted in this phase of the project provides the important pathway of moving bitumen derived carbon fibre technologies from successful lab trials to technical market readiness on the pathway towards commercialization.