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Lightweight Construction

Carbon fiber made from wood for the first time

A Dresden-based scientist has developed a procedure for obtaining carbon fibers from waste from the paper industry. This could give another significant boost to the current trend towards lightweight construction.

15 Aug. 2018
Carbon fiber made from wood for the first time (Photo: Muhannad Al Aiti)

Carbon fiber is currently the favorite material of lightweight engineering in the automobile industry, the wind energy sector, aerospace and shipping. Until now, it has been manufactured mainly from oil or pitch and is comparatively expensive to produce. The young scientist Muhannad Al Aiti, who is employed by the TU Dresden and the Leibniz-Institut für Polymerforschung Dresden e.V. (Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research Dresden), has now found a way to make carbon fibers cost-effectively from a renewable raw material . He uses lignin , which makes up about 20 to 30% of the dry mass of woody plants. Ever year around 50 million metric tons of lignin is created as a waste product of the paper industry. Until now, it has almost always been incinerated and is thus available cheaply.

Al Aiti is currently researching into the production process for sustainable high-tech fibers. From mid August, he will be carrying out further experiments at the Technical University of Tampere in Finland, where he can produce the lignin-based carbon fiber with a special spinning process. His research results should be published this year. The first essay on the topic is available as a PDF .