Ford, DowAksa jointly to develop carbon fiber for high-volume automotive light-weighting applications
Ford and DowAksa signed a joint development agreement (JDA) formally to advance research on cost-effective, high-volume manufacturing of automotive-grade carbon fiber, a material poised to play a significant role in the drive to make vehicles lighter. (Earlier post.)
The agreement, between Ford Motor Company, Ford Global Technologies and DowAksa (a 50/50 joint venture between The Dow Chemical Company and Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii A.Ş.) will combine DowAksa’s feedstock capacity, carbon fiber conversion and downstream intermediates production capabilities with Ford’s expertise in design, engineering and high-volume manufacturing. The goal is to produce materials that make cost-effective carbon fiber composite parts that are much lighter than steel but meet automotive strength requirements.
The JDA allows the companies to collaboratively generate new, lower-cost automotive grades of carbon fiber that can be applied to aligned and random fiber formats while maintaining compatibility with both thermoset and thermoplastic matrices. The agreement also includes a pathway for potential extension of development collaboration into a commercial manufacturing partnership.
As announced in January, the companies will be part of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), announced by President Obama as part of the larger National Network for Manufacturing Innovation supported by the US Department of Energy. The JDA will facilitate the companies’ efforts in conjunction with IACMI to overcome the high cost and limited availability of carbon fiber in automotive applications.
Automotive manufacturers’ use of carbon fiber composites has been hindered by the absence of both high-volume manufacturing methods and affordable material formats. This partnership combines the individual strengths of each company to target these challenges.
DowAksa is committed to bringing the benefits of carbon fiber to the industrial marketplace. By entering into this agreement, DowAksa is taking a serious approach to providing environmentally sustainable solutions, the goal being the manufacture of much lighter vehicles with optimized performance and cost, which will ensure reduced fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.—DowAska Vice Chairman Mehmet Ali Berkman
Aksa, based in Yalova, Turkey, is the world’s largest producer of acrylic fibers, a key raw material in the production of carbon fibers. DowAksa was formed in 2012 to develop, manufacture and globally market carbon fiber and derivatives to support the rapidly expanding carbon-fiber-based composites industry as a large-scale, full-service, integrated solution provider. DowAksa is expanding on Aksa’s existing carbon fiber production assets. Development plans also include integrated production capability for the manufacture and supply of advanced carbon fiber composites.