Carbon Fiber Components Getting Closer?

The potential of carbon fiber components for cars that aren’t necessarily piloted by the likes of Sebastian Vettel or Jenson Button got a major boost yesterday as General Motors and Teijin Ltd. of Japan signed a co-development agreement through which the companies will work toward using Teijin’s carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic technology, which allows the production of composite components in under a minute.

The potential of carbon fiber components for cars that aren’t necessarily piloted by the likes of Sebastian Vettel or Jenson Button got a major boost yesterday as General Motors and Teijin Ltd. of Japan signed a co-development agreement through which the companies will work toward using Teijin’s carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic technology, which allows the production of composite components in under a minute.

By contrast, composites made with thermoset resins take significantly longer to produce and has been a major factor in the limited application of the material, despite the fact that it is 10x stronger than ordinary steel and weighs 75% less.

e

Shown here is a development from Teijin and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, a highly conductive carbon nanofiber (CNF) with what’s claimed as the world’s first elliptical cross-section consisting of graphite layers oriented in a single direction. The fiber is 20 micrometers long, which is 10x conventional CNF. The material has application in battery components, including lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. While this is not in line with the GM-Teijin announcement regarding the carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic process, it goes to show that Teijin is undoubtedly a good partner in this advanced technology materials space.

About the agreement, Steve Girsky, GM vice chairman, stated, “Our relationship with Teijin provides the opportunity to revolutionize the way carbon fiber is used in the automotive industry. This technology holds the potential to be an industry game changer and demonstrates GM’s long-standing commitment to innovation.”

As the auto industry gets closer to the 2016 CAFE standard calling for 37.8 mpg for cars and 34.1 mpg for light trucks and a combined 34.1 mpg, it is going to need a game changer in addition to powertrain modifications and changes.

Composites just may be it.