Carbon Fiber Technology Facility dedicated, serves as backdrop for new DOE initiative

ORNL_outlineYesterday was a big day for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). It dedicated its new Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF) and served as a backdrop for a major announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Amid a blue ribbon delegation of top public and private sector executives gathered for the ribbon cutting, a senior DOE official unveiled a new “Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative” (CEMI).

David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, used the dedication ceremony to underscore the importance of facilities like the CFTC in meeting DOE’s goals.

He told the audience that included Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Third District Congressman Chuck Fleischmann of DOE’s dual goals for the program. They are growing American manufacturing of clean energy products and boosting U.S. competitiveness through major improvements in manufacturing energy productivity.

ORNL received nearly $35 million from DOE to launch the CFTC that is focused on developing less expensive, better performing carbon fiber materials and manufacturing processes. Carbon fiber is stronger than steel, lighter than steel and, unfortunately at this stage, more expensive than steel.

DOE has said that at least 750 pounds could be reduced from the average weight of an automobile if carbon fiber composites could be incorporated into structural components. This could mean as much as a 50 percent reduction in weight and a 35 percent improvement in fuel efficiency without compromising performance or safety.

The new ORNL facility is designed to produce short runs of carbon fiber to allow companies to test different approaches that not only lower the cost of producing carbon fiber but also increase manufacturing efficiency.

Executives of The Dow Chemical Company and Ford Motor Company also spoke at the dedication. The two global firms have been working with ORNL’s carbon fiber researchers for years and are part of the oak Ridge Carbon Fiber Composites Consortium.

The complete DOE announcement is available at

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