The Energy Department announces up to $11.3 million for two projects that aim to advance the production of cost-competitive, high-performance carbon fiber material from renewable, non-food-based feedstocks, such as agricultural residues and woody biomass. Carbon fiber – a strong, lightweight material that can replace steel and other heavier metals – can lower the cost and improve performance of fuel-efficient vehicles and renewable energy components such as wind turbine blades. The two projects seek to demonstrate new biomass conversion technologies that enable the manufacturing of acrylonitrile – an essential feedstock for high performance carbon fiber – for less than $1 per pound.
Southern Research Institute (SRI) of Birmingham, AL will receive up to $5.9 million to innovate on a multi-step catalytic process for conversion of sugars from non-food biomass to acrylonitrile.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of Golden, CO will receive up to $5.3 million to investigate and optimize multiple pathways to bio-acrylontrile.
This funding supports the Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, a cross-cutting effort to ensure U.S. manufacturers remain competitive in the global marketplace.