Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 7.14.46 AMMATRIC is an R&D partner in a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy with the goal of producing high-performance carbon fibers from ligno-cellulosic biomass. Carbon fiber (CF) composites are strong, lightweight materials with many applications in the automotive, aircraft, and other industries. An economically viable, efficient production of these materials could have a dramatic impact on energy use in the transportation sector. This project seeks to develop a sustainable, cost effective technology to produce high-performance “renewable carbon fiber” (RCF) from biomass-derived acrylonitrile (bio-ACN).

MATRIC’s role is primarily in the catalytic production and purification of bio-ACN. The project is being carried out as a team effort by the Renewable Carbon Fiber Consortium (RCFC), led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Other partners in this international consortium include Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Ford Motor Company, Johnson-Matthey (JM), and Biochemtex. Other partners are focused on biomass processing and carbon fiber formation.

The RCFC was assembled with team members across the biomass-derived CF value chain. RCFC members were selected to include world-class expertise at all points in the biomass-to-RCF process. Team members include experts in: a) biomass deconstruction (NREL, Biochemtex, Idaho National Laboratory); b) fermentation, metabolic engineering, separations, and catalysis (NREL, ORNL, Colorado School of Mines, JM, University of Colorado, MATRIC) and; c) ACN conversion to RCF and subsequent testing and evaluation (ORNL, DowAksa, Ford).

“Selection of MATRIC to participate in this consortium is a recognition of the outstanding expertise we have on our staff in the areas of catalysis, chemical separations and process scale-up,” says Duane Dombek, director, product and process R&D, MATRIC. “It’s an honor to be associated with a team of this caliber.”

Learn more about the project:

— For more information, contact Duane Dombek.