This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 06, 2014

Energy Department Announces $11 Million for Carbon Fiber from Biomass

The Energy Department on July 30 announced up to $11.3 million for two projects—including one at its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)—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. The projects include:

  • Southern Research Institute of Birmingham, Alabama, will receive up to $5.9 million to work on a multi-step catalytic process for conversion of sugars from non-food biomass to acrylonitrile.

  • NREL will receive up to $5.3 million to investigate and optimize multiple pathways to bio-acrylonitrile.

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. See the Energy Department news release.