Due to its lightweight, strength, functionality, low cost, and durability, carbon fiber is a popular choice for the commercial vehicle industry. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Army has wanted to investigate the viability of this composite material for their Next Generation Combat vehicles. Currently, most carbon fiber comes from China. The Army’s goal has been to develop a domestic source.
New U.S.–based technology can now deliver U.S.-sourced carbon fibers and graphite through a process using low-cost mesophase pitch, a byproduct of the oil refinery industry. Further development of this innovative method is needed for the processing of the mesophase pitch as well as the fibers and foams made from it.
To demonstrate the vast potential for this process, the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) has partnered with Advanced Carbon Products-Technologies (ACP-T) in a project for the CTMA program. Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities (CTMA) Program. The initiative seeks to evaluate how carbon fiber and graphitic foams can be used to make commercial and military vehicle components.
Recently, ACP-T opened a new facility in Hitchens, Kentucky that will produce carbon fiber and carbon fiber foams, the first such facility within the U.S. A ribbon-cutting event attended by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers helped promote this new technology and the CTMA pilot project. A press release from Rep. Rogers’ office highlights how broad the potential could be for this new source of carbon fiber materials.
In Rogers’ own words, “The opportunities to use this new innovative material are endless, and I can’t wait to see the growth of this company in our region.” View the release: https://halrogers.house.gov/press-releases?id=EE590B15-A97E-45FC-AD61-0BEA34326B49.