Australia set to play leading role in multi-million dollar global carbon fibre industry

25 February 2011

Deakin University is staking a claim for Australia in the multi-million dollar global carbon fibre industry – the extremely strong, yet lightweight material of choice for the aviation and automotive industries.

Next week, the University will bring together an international who’s who of the industry – from researchers to suppliers to end users - to consider the direction for carbon fibre research and manufacture and the role Australian innovation will play in the material’s future.

The discussions at the Carbon Fibre Future Directions conference will also help set the research agenda for the world’s first open access carbon fibre research production plant. The multi-million dollar Australian Carbon Fibre Research Facility will be built at Deakin University in Geelong next year. It will be the first research facility in the world capable of producing commercial quantities of aerospace quality carbon fibre.

Deakin’s Associate Professor Bronwyn Fox, conference organiser and an expert in carbon fibre manufacture, said that the conference had attracted the captains of the international carbon fibre industry – a testament to Australia’s growing reputation in carbon fibre research.

“The attention the conference has received from around the world well and truly puts Deakin and Australia on the international map as the place for carbon fibre research.” Associate Professor Fox said.

“Research to extend the properties, functionality and production of carbon fibre is somewhat underdeveloped due to the limitations of current lab scale experiments.

“Through the capabilities of the upcoming research centre and the breadth of expertise in the country, there is no doubt that Australia will have the facilities and know how to lead the world in realising the full potential of this material.”

Guest speakers at the Carbon Fibre Future Directions conference include:
• Robert Norris, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA
• Jeff Wiggins, University of Southern Mississippi, USA
• Steve Christensen - Technical Fellow, Boeing, USA
• Wen-Fang Hwang, Spirit Aerosystems, USA
• Slade Gardener, Lockheed Martin
• Chris Wilkinson, The Manufacturing Institute, UK
• Professor Andrew Walker, University of Manchester, UK
• Professor Frank Jones, University of Sheffield, UK

Carbon fibre is fast becoming the defining material of the 21st Century.

“It has huge applications in the aerospace industry, in fact the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is 50 per cent composite materials by weight and the new Airbus A350 XWB will be 53 per cent composite by weight,” Associate Professor Fox said.

“These materials play an enormous role in making aircraft more lightweight so that they are more fuel efficient and produce less environmental emissions.

“Carbon fibre composites have a huge impact on the way we look at alternative energy, particularly blades for wind turbines.

“They also have the ability to reduce the weight of motor vehicles, for example, in the USA, Tesla use carbon fibre composites as the material of choice for their cutting edge electric vehicles.”

The conference, Carbon Fibre Future Directions, will be held in Geelong from 28 February to 4 March 2011.

News facts
  • Deakin bringing together the international who's who of carbon fibre to discuss the material's future
  • Carbon fibre set to be the defining material of the 21st Century; it is already the material of choice for the aviation and automotive industries
  • World's first open access carbon fibre research production plant being built at Deakin in Geelong will place Australia at the forefront of research into the future of the material

Media contact

Mandi O'Garretty
Deakin Media Relations
(03) 5227 2776; 0418 361 890

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25th February 2011