Welcome to Vince Kelly's Carbon Fiber Homepage

You can golf, ride, sail, tennis, drive, cycle, fish, decorate or even
FLY CARBON FIBER !


picture courtesy of Boeing, www.boeing.com

The 787 is a family of airplanes in the 200- to 300-seat class that will carry passengers on routes between 3,500 and 8,500 nautical miles (6,500 to 16,000 kilometers). The 787 will allow airlines to offer passengers more of what they want: affordable, comfortable, nonstop, point-to-point travel to more destinations around the world. In addition to bringing big-jet ranges to mid-size airplanes, the 787 will fly at Mach 0.85, as fast as today's fastest commercial airplanes, while using much less fuel.

Using 20 percent less fuel per passenger than similarly sized airplanes, the 787 is designed for the environment with lower emissions and quieter takeoffs and landings. Inside the airplane, passengers will find cleaner air, bigger windows, more stowage space and improved lighting. Since the 787 program launch in April 2004, Boeing has sold more than 500 airplanes to customers from around the world, passing the 500-airplane order mark faster than any other airplane launch in the history of commercial aviation.

The 787 is the first commercial airplane to make the change from metal to composite structure. The majority of the 787's major structure is made out of composite material. The Dreamliner is the first commercial airplane to be built with a one-piece fuselage. Manufacturing a one-piece fuselage section eliminates 1,500 aluminum sheets and 40,000 to 50,000 fasteners.

 

Computer generated Images of the new Airbus A350

pictures courtesy of Airbus www.airbus.com

 

Airbus

A350

 

The development of this aircraft will see a further significant use of carbon fiber composites.


          

Vince Kelly joined the carbon fiber industry in 1981 to research and develop the technology necessary to start up an independent carbon fiber facility in the UK. In 1983 he transferred to a Greenfield site in Scotland, at that time the largest capacity carbon fiber line in Europe. This site is now the home of the carbon fiber manufacturing arm of a German multi-national company.

In 1986 he joined a Dutch multi-national concern in  Germany to start up their new advanced carbon fiber line, purchased under license from a global manufacturer of advanced polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based carbon fiber in Japan. 

In 2001 he became self employed, focusing in expanding the application and advanced manufacturing techniques for PAN carbon fibers, including the following products: 

(1)   Advanced high strength carbon fibers in the following yarn sizes (note K = 1000 filaments) 24K, 12K, 6K, 3K and 1K.

(2)   Specialized carbon fibers such as intermediate and high modulus grades.

(3)   Lower cost carbon fibers 320K, 120K 40K and 24K.

(4)   Evaluation and characterization of various PAN precursor fibers.

(4)   Specialist products such as oxidized acrylic fibers and activated carbon fibers. 

(5)   Chopped carbon fiber, milled carbon fiber and recycling waste carbon fiber.

His twenty years+  experience in the carbon fiber business has enabled him to travel the world identifying new markets and business potential for carbon fiber products and technology. Working together with specialists of many year�s experience and in conjunction with world class equipment suppliers we are your premier global source of advanced bespoke carbon fiber technology. 

We of course offer services to users of carbon fiber. Whether you have a new invention or are an established aerospace company we are able to offer our experience to help you in product and supplier selection, whether your need is a sample of fiber or wish to perform a full supplier technology audit, we welcome your enquiry. We are totally independent. We look forward to being of service to you.  

email vince@carbon-fiber.com 

My name is Vince Kelly , I hope to provide you with information about carbon fiber, a unique material, used in a wealth of applications, all over the world.

The Carbon Atom

Carbon fibers are derived from one of two precursor materials

PITCH based carbon fibers have lower mechanical properties and are therfore rarely used in critical structural applications.PAN based carbon fibers are under continual development and are used in composites to make materials of great strength and lightness

The raw material of PAN, acrylonitrile (AN), is a product of the chemical industry and can be manufactured as follows:

Acrylonitrile (AN) is used as a raw material in acrylic fibers, ABS resin, AS resin, synthetic rubber (NBR), acrylamide and other materials. Global production capacity is 4.67 million tons, approximately 60% of which is consumed for acrylic fibers. In the early manufacturing processes acetylene and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) were used as a raw material, whereas today nearly all AN is manufactured using what is called the Sohio process, whereby an ammoxidation reaction are applied from inexpensive propylene and ammonia. Technological advances, particularly surrounding research into improved catalysts for the Sohio process, are proceeding, promoted by a concern for energy conservation and lessening the environmental loading. The research aims include improved productivity, reduced byproducts, and lesser wastewater and waste gas.

2. Sohio process
The Sohio process was perfected in 1960 by The Standard Oil Co. of Ohio, owing to the development of an epoch-making catalyst that synthesizes AN in a single-stage reaction using propylene and ammonia. The reaction took place using the fluid-bed od. The P-Mo-Bi group is used as the catalyst and favorable fluidized conditions are maintained by adjusting the physical properties of the catalyst.


The reaction gas contains not only AN, but also acetonitrile, hydrogen cyanide and other byproduct gasses, so AN products are obtained by having the reaction gas absorbed into water, then using evaporation separation.

5. Improved processes
The Sohio process was epoch-making at the time it was developed, but improvements have been made in response to the following conditions:
(1)The AN yield of approximately 60% was not very high.
(2)The process circulated and used large amounts of water, requiring a lot of energy.
(3)Approximately 1.5 tons to 2 tons of wastewater was generated for every ton of AN produced.
(4) Treatment technology for the waste gas was incomplete.

I. Improved catalyst

II. Steam reduction
Monsanto Corp. improved the water extractive distillation stage of the Sohio process, reducing the amount of steam required to produce one ton of AN by three tons.

III. Wastewater and waste gas treatment
AN wastewater normally contains ammonium sulfate, along with small amounts of nitrile compounds, hydrocyanic acid and compounds with a high boiling point. Alkali used to be added to the wastewater before discharging, but nowadays wet oxidation processes and biological treatment processes are being employed. Bayer Inc. has developed the technology to recover high-grade ammonium sulfate from the gas generated as a byproduct of the reaction.

Polymerisation of acrylonitrile produces PAN, the most common carbon fiber feedstock

The basic unit of PAN is:

The Manufacturing Process

The conversion of PAN to carbon fibers is normally made in 4 continuous stages
  • Oxidation
  • Carbonisation(Graphitisation)
  • Surface treatment
  • Sizing
  • OXIDATION involves heating the fibers to around 300 deg C in air. This evolves hydrogen from the fibers and adds less volatile oxygen.

    The polymer changes from a ladder to a stable ring structure, and the fiber changes colour from white though brown to black.

    In this picture you see the fibre changing color.

    The white PAN strands at the bottom pass through the air heated oven and begin to darken

    Quite quickly they turn to black and carbon fiber is like the Ford T, As Henry said "Its any color you want, as long as it's black"

    Photo courtesy of Akzo Nobel

    In this picture you see the "skin-core effect.

    The fatter fibers are not fully oxidized and have a core, which will make a hollow low grade carbon fiber

    This shows the importance of a high quality precursor of even cross section

    Photo courtesy of Peter Morgan
    The process here is very exothermic, fires are not uncommon

    The resulting material is a textile fiber which is fireproof, some companies actually sell this as an end product for example SGL Technic (Scotland), under the tradename PANOX. (OXidised PAN)

    CARBONISATION(GRAPHITISATION) involves heating the fibers up to 3000 � C in an inert atmosphere, the fibers are now nearly 100 % carbon.

    The temperature will determine the grade of fiber produced:

    Grades of Carbon Fiber

    Carbonisation Temperature (�C) to 1000 1000 - 1500 1500 - 2000 2000 + (Graphitisation)

    Grade of Carbon Fiber

    Low Modulus Standard Modulus Intermediate Modulus High Modulus
    Modulus of Elasticity (GPa) to 200 200 - 250 250 - 325 325 +

    A summmary of typical properties of the various grades of carbon fibers is given by Toray, although the units of tensiometry are imperial (psi). (Conversion factor ~ 1.45). A good guide to conversions can be found at SAMPE.

    SURFACE TREATMENT forms chemical bonds to the carbon surface, to give a better cohesion to the resin system of the composite

    SIZING is a neutral finishing agent (usually epoxy) to protect the fibers during further processing (eg prepregging) and to act as an interface to the resin system of the composite

    Where are carbon fibers used ?

    Carbon fibers are used primarily in composites, these are structures containing two or more components, in the case of fiber reinforced composites this is the fiber and a resin. A composite containing two types of fiber, eg. carbon and glass, is known as a hybrid composite structure. The origins of textile reinforced composites are linked to the development of glass fibers, which commenced in 1938 by the Owens Corning Fiberglass Corporation (USA). Original large scale applications included air filtration, thermal and electrical insulation and the reinforcement of plastics. As the technology of textile reinforced composites expanded, a growing demand from the aerospace industry for composite materials with superior properties emeged. In particular, materials with (1) higher specific strength, (2) higher specific moduli and (3) low density were required. Other desirable properties are good fatigue resistance, and dimensional stability. Carbon fibers were developed to meet this demand.

             

    Vince Kelly joined the carbon fiber industry in 1981 to research and develop the technology necessary to start up an independent carbon fiber facility in the UK. In 1983 he transferred to a Greenfield site in Scotland, at that time the largest capacity carbon fiber line in Europe. This site is now the home of the carbon fiber manufacturing arm of a German multi-national company.

    In 1986 he joined a Dutch multi-national concern in  Germany to start up their new advanced carbon fiber line, purchased under license from a global manufacturer of advanced polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based carbon fiber in Japan. 

    In 2001 he became self employed, focusing in expanding the application and advanced manufacturing techniques for PAN carbon fibers, including the following products: 

    (1)   Advanced high strength carbon fibers in the following yarn sizes (note K = 1000 filaments) 24K, 12K, 6K, 3K and 1K.

    (2)   Specialized carbon fibers such as intermediate and high modulus grades.

    (3)   Lower cost carbon fibers 320K, 120K 40K and 24K.

    (4)   Evaluation and characterization of various PAN precursor fibers.

    (4)   Specialist products such as oxidized acrylic fibers and activated carbon fibers. 

    (5)   Chopped carbon fiber, milled carbon fiber and recycling waste carbon fiber.

    His twenty years+  experience in the carbon fiber business has enabled him to travel the world identifying new markets and business potential for carbon fiber products and technology. Working together with specialists of many year�s experience and in conjunction with world class equipment suppliers we are your premier global source of advanced bespoke carbon fiber technology. 

    We of course offer services to users of carbon fiber. Whether you have a new invention or are an established aerospace company we are able to offer our experience to help you in product and supplier selection, whether your need is a sample of fiber or wish to perform a full supplier technology audit, we welcome your enquiry. We are totally independent. We look forward to being of service to you.  

    email vince@carbon-fiber.com

    Carbon fibers are usually mixed with resin to form a "Pre-Preg"
    (Pre-impregnated)sheet, wound between release paper

    A filming line used in the production of carbon fiber prepreg at SP Systems


    above photos courtesy of SP Sytems

    
    

    Comparison of Carbon Fiber and Steel

    Material Tensile Strength (GPa) Tensile Modulus (GPa) Density (g/ccm) Specific Strength (GPa)
    Standard Grade Carbon Fiber 3.5 230.0 1.75 2.00
    High Tensile Steel 1.3 210.0 7.87 0.17

    The superior properties of carbon fiber to steel and other metals meant that the aerospace industry was an obvious market for composite materials, the use of lighter materials in aircraft construction allows for fuel savings or a greater payload, Carbon fibers are used extensively in both military and civil aircraft structures. As the technology of producing composites advanced, other fibers were developed to supply this market. For example Aramid and E-Glass, see how they compare to carbon fibers:

    
    

    Comparison of Fiber Reinforcements

    Material Tensile Strength (GPa) Tensile Modulus (GPa) Density (g/ccm) Specific Strength (GPa)
    Carbon 3.5 230.0 1.75 2.00
    Kevlar 3.6 60.0 1.44 2.50
    E Glass 3.4 22.0 2.60 1.31

    Carbon fibers are also unique in the range of properties that can be found, in this one generic type of material. As most carbon fiber manufactures are working in a state of constant development and improvement, the range of fibers now available to the structural engineer is always changing, look at the developments of the last 15 years:


    Carbon fibers are found in the intereiors of nearly all new aircraft


    And increasingly in more critical parts of the aircraft

    The author of this page has been active in carbon fibers since 1980. My name is Vince Kelly, I was born in Manchester England, my work in carbon fibers has taken me to 1986 in Scotland, from 1986 to 2000 in Germany. I am currently an international consultant in all aspects of carbon fiber technology. I am also a professional member of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering SAMPE. Founded in 1944, SAMPE is an international not-for-profit professional Organization with approximately 5000 members worldwide. As the premier technical Society in the fields of advanced materials and process engineering technology, SAMPE is recognized for its strengths across numerous industries and markets. The Society holds annual conferences and exhibitions in the USA, Europe and Japan and publishes two widely recognized journals throughout the year. Professional and Student Chapters actively hold local meetings, regional workshops and seminars.

    New my guide to Activated Carbon Fiber

    Email:vince@carbon-fiber.com


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    Vince Kelly joined the carbon fiber industry in 1981 to research and develop the technology necessary to start up an independent carbon fiber facility in the UK. In 1983 he transferred to a Greenfield site in Scotland, at that time the largest capacity carbon fiber line in Europe. This site is now the home of the carbon fiber manufacturing arm of a German multi-national company.

    In 1986 he joined a Dutch multi-national concern in  Germany to start up their new advanced carbon fiber line, purchased under license from a global manufacturer of advanced polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based carbon fiber in Japan. 

    In 2001 he became self employed, focusing in expanding the application and advanced manufacturing techniques for PAN carbon fibers, including the following products: 

    (1)   Advanced high strength carbon fibers in the following yarn sizes (note K = 1000 filaments) 24K, 12K, 6K, 3K and 1K.

    (2)   Specialized carbon fibers such as intermediate and high modulus grades.

    (3)   Lower cost carbon fibers 320K, 120K 40K and 24K.

    (4)   Evaluation and characterization of various PAN precursor fibers.

    (4)   Specialist products such as oxidized acrylic fibers and activated carbon fibers. 

    (5)   Chopped carbon fiber, milled carbon fiber and recycling waste carbon fiber.

    His twenty years+  experience in the carbon fiber business has enabled him to travel the world identifying new markets and business potential for carbon fiber products and technology. Working together with specialists of many year�s experience and in conjunction with world class equipment suppliers we are your premier global source of advanced bespoke carbon fiber technology. 

    We of course offer services to users of carbon fiber. Whether you have a new invention or are an established aerospace company we are able to offer our experience to help you in product and supplier selection, whether your need is a sample of fiber or wish to perform a full supplier technology audit, we welcome your enquiry. We are totally independent. We look forward to being of service to you.  

    email vince@carbon-fiber.com 

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