sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery

 

Sail-World.com : Why is carbon fiber so expensive?

Why is carbon fiber so expensive?


When carbon fiber was first trotted out in solid rocket motor cases and tanks in the 1960s, it was poised to not only take on fiberglass, but also a whole host of other materials.

What happened?

50 years later it's still an exotic material. Sure, Batman's got it in his suit, expensive cars feature smatterings of it in their dashboards and performance parts, but at $10 a pound on the low end, it's still too pricy for wide-scale deployment. We've been using this stuff for decades. Where's our materials science Moore's Law to make this stuff cheap? Why is this stuff still so expensive?

Turns out that even half a century later, this stuff is still a major pain in the ass to make.

Before carbon fiber becomes carbon fiber, it starts as a base material—usually an organic polymer with carbon atoms binding together long strings of molecules called a polyacrylonitrile. It's a big word for a material similar to the acrylics in sweaters and carpets. But unlike floor and clothing acrylics, the kind that turns into a material stronger and lighter than steel has a heftier price tag. A three-ish-dollar per pound starting price may not sound exorbitant, but in its manufacturing, the number spikes.

See, to get the carbon part of carbon fiber, half of the starting material's acrylic needs to be kicked away. 'The final product will cost double what you started with because half burns off,' explains Bob Norris of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's polymer matrix composites group. 'Before you even account for energy and equipment, the precursor in the final product is something around $5 a pound.'

That price—$5 a pound—is also the magic number for getting carbon fiber into mainstream automotive applications. Seven bones will do, but five will make the biggest splash. So as it stands, the base material alone has already blown the budget.

There's more. Forcing the acrylic to shed its non-carbon atoms takes monstrous machines and a lot of heat. The first of two major processing steps is oxidization stabilization. Here fibers are continuously fed through 50-100 foot-long ovens pumping out heat in the several hundred degrees Celsius range. The process takes hours, so it's a massive energy eater.

Then the material goes through a what's called carbonization. Although the furnaces here are shorter and don't run for as long, they operate at much higher temperatures—we're taking around 1000 degrees Celsius for the initial step before and then another round of heating with even higher temperatures. That's a power bill you don't even want to think about.

Full story at http://gizmodo.com




by Rachel Swaby

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=89307

9:27 AM Tue 4 Oct 2011 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.


News - USA and the World



Big Boat Series - It's not the size, it's the length by Erik Simonson, Pressure-Drop.US,


























470 Men and Women Worlds - Champs take over leaderboard by 470 International Association Class,






































ISAF Sailing World Championships - Watch medal races live here
Hobie 16 Open North American Championships and Pan Am Games qualifier
ISAF Sailing World Championship - Videos from Santander
ISAF Sailing Worlds: Buckingham into Medal Race, 470's stay consistent
470 Men and Women Worlds - Vadlau and Ogar into pole position
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Defending champion on top
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Strong competition for RS:X fleets
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Big breeze on day 6 + Video
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Buckingham into Laser Medal Race
U.S. Multihull Championship - Hobie Alter Trophy to be decided
ISAF Sailing Worlds - The kind of form most sailors only dream about
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - Quantum Racing ahead of target
ISAF Worlds Santander - 19 Rio 2016 Laser Radial spots awarded
Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds - 21 broadcasters to take live coverage
Rolex Swan Cup - Looking forward to the next 30 years
America’s Cup: The Future is foiling – AC45s to be modified
Volvo Ocean Race: Win a stopover trip by designing an ECsix T-Shirt
Red Bull 49erFX: On the eve of the Worlds in Santander
America's Cup: Ben Ainslie Racing launches partnership with Yamaha
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Starts tomorrow
Rio 2016 Daylight the issue for Olympic sailing regatta   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - USA 470's and Lasers battle at top   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Santander - Day 5 video highlights   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Santander images by Jesús Renedo   
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - No action on day 2   
470 Men and Women Worlds - Game on for Olympic Qualification   
ISAF Sailing World Championships: Finns off to slow start in Santander   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Seesaw Day 5 in Santander + Video   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - 470 sailors shine in Santander   
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - Kiwi Ray Davies returns to TP52 fleet   
Starboard Hatteras Wave Jam - No windsurfing action on day 1   
A complete recap of the most successful Melges 20 World Championship   
Rolex Big Boat Series - Prizegiving images by Chuck Lantz   
ISAF Santander - Upwards path for Austrian women's 470 crew + video   
18ft skiffs: Carnage compilation from the glory days of the Grand Prix   
ISAF Worlds: Video from the British Sailing Team   
Bart's Bash expected to set new records this weekend   
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - Marcilio Browne wins Super Session   
470 Men and Women World Championships - Racing abandoned on day 2   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Day 4 images from Santander   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT