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Enabling a Step Change in Single-Line Carbon Fiber Production Capacity

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Enabling a Step Change in Single-Line Carbon Fiber Production Capacity Through Advanced High Precision Large Scale Thermal Processing Equipment


Carbon fiber applications for ground transportation exert market pressure towards increased capacity and lower cost.  Both natural market forces and the NHTSA's rapidly rising CAFE mandates will push automotive manufacturers to use significantly more lightweight composite materials over the next 10 years. Today large capacity carbonization lines for PAN precursor are in the range of 1500 – 2,500 tons per year.   Much larger lines promise both investment and operating cost advantages due to the economies of scale.  They also reduce the number of new lines and associated lead time required for adding large amounts of capacity. This analysis focuses on 10,000 ton per year lines for PAN precursor.  The physical space requirements are shown as functions of key variables such as tow band width, filament count, thermal residence times, and operability.   Predictions of energy consumption are made using specific example configurations of 10,000 ton per year lines.  The oxidation process energy consumption is shown to be chiefly a function of process exhaust requirements and the number of product turnarounds. For carbonization, the important factors are width-wise filament density and the peak temperature.  Multiple flowsheets are presented to illustrate some of the possible configurations for fuel source, energy recovery heat exchange, and how the optimal selection is a complex choice that accounts for emission regulations, the price and availability of electricity and fuel gas, and piping complexity. Finally the mechanical and process design challenges presented by a step change in capacity are discussed.  The increasing importance of gas flow uniformity throughout the thermal processing steps as line width increases is demonstrated, and the ergonomic challenges posed by operating much larger equipment are discussed.


Authors: James A Fry


Conference: CAMX 2016 – Anaheim


SKU/Code: TP16-0067


Pages: 15

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