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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.

Comments

HarveyD

Excellent decision by Ford to reduce (all) their future vehicle dead weight with light aluminum and carbon fiber.

Let's hope that all other vehicle manufacturers will follow.

Less weight = less energy required to move a vhicle from A to Z = less Oil imports = less GHG and less pollution.

Under One ton BEVs should become a reality.

Lad

Carbon fiber panels are made from carbon fibers and resins derived from petrochemicals. Additional oil will be needed to create the materials. But, the real saving in oil is not using it as a fuel in ICEs where 80% of the potential energy is lost as gasses and heat.

HarveyD

Carbon fiber parts can be made without fossil fuel, from biomass extracted by-products.

mahonj

If they can find a way of making automotive parts with CF at reasonable cost it will be a huge boon.
It would mean you could make reasonably sized, very light cars.
once you get the weight down, you can power them by ICE, HEV or BEV - as you wish.
If you live in a part of the world with a low carbon electric grid, BEVs would be the best option (once they become available) else HEV - even diesel ICE.
It doesn't really matter where the carbon for the CF comes from, the amounts are miniscule compared to the amount of fuel saved over a 10 year active life.

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