Energy Department Announces $11 Million to Advance Renewable Carbon Fiber Production from Biomass

July 30, 2014

The Energy Department announced today 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, Alabama 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, Colorado 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.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and 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 biofuels and conversion technologies.

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