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LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.

Ann R. Thryft

October 13, 2016

4 Min Read
Composites Startup First To License ORNL's Fast, Cheap Carbon Fiber

In April, we told you about a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's said to be faster, cheaper, and greener. The lab was taking licensing applications, and now has its first licensing partner for commercial production of the fiber and carbon composites based on it.

The company, LeMond Composites, is a startup founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond. The licensing agreement signed with ORNL makes the company the first to offer the new low-cost carbon fiber, which was developed specifically for high-volume applications in transportation, renewable energy, and infrastructure. Several members of the team at ORNL's Carbon Fiber Technology Facility that developed the process have joined LeMond Composites. These include Connie Jackson, CEO of the new company.



The first licensee for commercial production of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) process that makes fiber and carbon composites faster, cheaper, and greener is LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond. Commercial production is set for 2018.
(Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

As we reported, the production method can reduce the cost of manufacturing carbon fiber by 50% or more compared to the lowest cost industrial-grade fiber, yet this new fiber has the mechanical properties of carbon fiber costing three times as much. The process can also reduce the energy consumed in its production by up to 60%. More than a decade of research, extensive analysis, and use by the lab's industrial partners in prototyping went into its development.

"We can provide the advantages of our carbon fiber to many industries by improving strength, stiffness, and weight reduction," said Jackson in a press statement. "If you imagine replacing steel, aluminum, and fiberglass with our carbon fiber, you begin to understand the scope of the potential market. Our process will have global applications and we are ready to move forward with scaling the technology." It will also incorporate chemistry geared toward making the fiber easy to recycle.

In a video on the homepage of the LeMond Composites website, founder Greg LeMond says he has a personal connection to carbon fiber. "We were the first to ever use carbon fiber in this sport [of cycling], and that was 1985," he said. "I was the first rider to win the Tour de France and win a major race on a carbon fiber frame, and that was 1986. So I've had this connection."


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About the Author(s)

Ann R. Thryft

Ann R. Thryft has written about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for Design News, EE Times, Test & Measurement World, EDN, RTC Magazine, COTS Journal, Nikkei Electronics Asia, Computer Design, and Electronic Buyers' News (EBN). She's introduced readers to several emerging trends: industrial cybersecurity for operational technology, industrial-strength metals 3D printing, RFID, software-defined radio, early mobile phone architectures, open network server and switch/router architectures, and set-top box system design. At EBN Ann won two independently judged Editorial Excellence awards for Best Technology Feature. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and a Certified Business Communicator certificate from the Business Marketing Association (formerly B/PAA).

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