Energy Department Announces $12 Million for Technologies to Produce Renewable Carbon Fiber from Biomass

February 03, 2014

The Energy Department today announced up to $12 million in funding 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 derived from biomass may be less costly to manufacture and offer greater environmental benefits than traditional carbon fiber produced from natural gas or petroleum. This funding supports the Energy Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, which is a cross-cutting effort to ensure U.S. manufacturers remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Carbon fiber is a strong, lightweight material that can replace steel and other heavier metals to lower the cost and improve performance of many technologies, including fuel-efficient vehicles and renewable energy systems. For example, by investing in lightweight carbon fiber materials for vehicles, the Energy Department is helping U.S. manufacturers reduce vehicle weight to improve fuel efficiency and save drivers money at the pump. Reducing a vehicle’s weight by just 10% can improve fuel economy by 6% to 8%.

In addition to its uses in fuel-efficient vehicles, carbon fiber can also improve other clean energy technologies including wind turbine blades, pressurized hydrogen storage vessels for fuel cells and insulation materials for energy efficient buildings.

The Energy Department intends to support projects that identify and develop a cost-competitive technology pathway to produce high-performance carbon fibers from renewable biomass. For more information and application requirements, visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about EERE's work with industry, academia, and national laboratory partners on a balanced portfolio of research in biomass feedstocks and conversion technologies.

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