Monday, 20 February 2017 19:41

CSIRO, Deakin Uni achieve carbon fibre 'milestone'

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The CSIRO and Victoria’s Deakin University say they have joined just a handful of companies around the world that can create carbon fibre from scratch, leading to what could be the next generation of carbon fibre that is stronger and of a higher quality.

The two organisations on Monday launched the “missing link” in Australia’s carbon fibre capability — a wet spinning line — at Waurn Ponds just outside Geelong.

According to them, only a handful of companies can create carbon fibre, each using their own secret recipe, and to join this elite club CSIRO and Deakin researchers had to ”crack the code”.

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

The two organisations say that, using patented CSIRO technology, they have created what could be the ”next generation of carbon fibre that is stronger and of a higher quality”.

CSIRO Future Industries director Dr Anita Hill said the development was an important milestone.

“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.

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

Deakin University vice-chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander, said the development was a great example of what Deakin and CSIRO could achieve together.

“Our two organisations share a long-standing and distinguished bond, one that our new Strategic Relationship Agreement (SRA) deepens.

“Together, we’re conducting industry-focused research with a profound and lasting impact, from the communities we serve, through to the world.”

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.

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

The CSIRO says the company liked the design so much it made another for its own factory and the CSIRO/ Deakin machine has been described as “the Ferrari of wet spinning lines”.

Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy, officially launched the facility on Monday.

“This is a great example of how collaboration in the Australian research sector can accelerate research, lead innovation and provide new job opportunities.

“Geelong already has a global reputation for industrial innovation. Initiatives such as this enhance that standing.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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