Low Cost Carbon Fiber Composites for Lightweight Vehicle Parts

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-05ER84327
Agency Tracking Number: 78845S05-I
Amount: $750,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2006
Solitcitation Year: 2006
Solitcitation Topic Code: 27
Solitcitation Number: DE-FG02-06ER06-09
Small Business Information
Materials Innovation Technologies
1529 Greenville Highway, Hendersonville, NC, 28792
Duns: N/A
Hubzone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Neal Baitcher
 Mr.
 (260) 490-9304
 nbaitcher@aptllc.com
Business Contact
 James Stike
Title: Mr.
Phone: (828) 698-1330
Email: jstike@mchsi.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
The U.S. could significantly reduce oil consumption by decreasing the weight of its automobile fleet, especially by using lightweight carbon composite materials. However, lightweight materials in automobile structures have been problematic for two reasons: (1) the high cost of carbon fiber materials themselves, and (2) the high processing costs of these materials. Although programs exist to reduce the cost of carbon fibers (from $12-$14/pound today to $5-$7/pound in the near future), current manufacturing processes are neither fast nor cost-effective enough to meet the demands of high volume production. This project will develop an innovative, high-volume molding process for complex-shaped carbon-fiber performs, which will allow cost effective carbon composite components to be incorporated into commercial passenger vehicles. In Phase I, a carbon fiber slurry was developed and molded into an automotive complex shape (B-pillar). It was indicated that controlled fiber orientation could be achieved in cycle times of seconds ¿ not minutes or hours as with conventional preforming techniques. (Control of fiber orientation is critical because it provides an ability to customize the design of the preform to meet end use characteristics and specifications.) Phase II will fully develop the carbon slurry, along with innovative tooling gimbal molding equipment for a pilot plant. The pilot plant process will be optimized, and cost models will be validated for an actual automotive component. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The new composite molding process should enable manufacturers in the automobile and aerospace industries to use lightweight, high performance carbon composite structures without the time and cost problems that plague other manufacturing technologies

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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