The primary sources of biomass for the lignin feedstock material for the carbon fiber production equipment in a new federal Carbon Fiber Technology Center will be:
- Switchgrass grown for production of cellulosic ethanol and related biofuels.
- Hybrid poplars (Populus species) similarly grown for production of cellulosic ethanol and related biofuels.
- Hard and softwood tree plantations (Tree Farms) grown for pulp and paper production (primarily softwood in North America).
Waste wood materials (sawdust, wood shavings, etc.) from the forest products industry.
That’s according to Dr. Frederick S. Baker, CSci, CChem, FRSC Distinguished R&D Staff at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) in Tennessee. The purpose of the project is to dramatically reduce the cost of carbon fiber so that it becomes affordable for use in automotive composites.