Innovative Carbon Fiber and Graphitic Foam Solutions – Phase II

NCMS Project #: 142102

Problem: Although there has been significant progress made in the automotive and trucking industry to improve fuel efficiency through the development of lightweight materials, more work is needed to create solutions that offer increased reliability and durability of critical components.  Historically, lighter-weight elements suffered from negative tradeoffs regarding their cost, life, reliability, and durability.  As a result, further research and development is needed to improve the performance deficiencies of these lightweight materials for use in the commercial component markets, while ensuring the solutions can be cost effective to facilitate commercialization and widespread use.  Additional investigation into carbon fiber manufactured from alternate sources needs to be pursued to yield additional insights and related breakthrough technologies in the use of carbon fiber composites.

Benefit: This initiative will support the commercialization of carbon fiber for use in the transportation and automotive industries by demonstrating the technical and financial feasibility of using new manufacturing processes to create more durable and higher strength, light-weight components and parts.  The use of mesophase pitch to produce carbon fiber dramatically reduces production costs of carbon-based products, making extremely light-weight, high strength, carbon-based products affordable.

Solution/Approach: This initiative will build upon the results of previous related lightweighting initiatives, by creating a prototype that will demonstrate the applicability of carbon fiber and graphitic carbon foam and their potential to reduce overall vehicle weight, while simultaneously reducing maintenance and sustainment activities that are normally associated with traditional vehicle designs.  In Phase II of this effort, mesophase pitch production will be further understood with regard to product quality, reproducibility, impact of operating parameters on pitch properties, and impact of pitch properties on downstream materials (carbon fiber, graphitic foam).  In addition, graphitic foams will be tested to determine the impact of their properties.

Impact on Warfighter:

  • Reduce maintenance and sustainment costs 
  • Improve vehicle durability and reliability  
  • Enhance warfighter readiness and survivability 

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC)
  • U.S. Army Program Executive Office, Ground Combat Systems (PEO-GCS)
  • U.S. Army PEO-GCS Readiness & Sustainment
  • U.S. Army Project Manager, Light Tactical Vehicle (PM-LTV)
  • Project Manager (PM) Family of Special Operations Vehicles (FoSOV)
  • Project Manager (PM) Communications and Intelligence Support Systems (CISS)

Industry Participation:

  • Advanced Carbon Products – Technologies (ACP-T)
  • NCMS

Benefit Area(s):

  • Cost savings
  • Repair turn-around time
  • Maintenance avoidance and reliability
  • Positive environmental impact
  • Survivability
  • Energy efficiency
  • Durability
  • Lightweighting

Focus Area:

  • Advanced/additive manufacturing