For better occupational safety in the fiber industry, cost-reducing solvents were investigated at the Institute of Textile Technology (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University. At the digital opening of the Dornbirn Global Fiber Convention (GFC) on September 15, 2021, Dr. Stefan Peterek was awarded the Paul Schlack Prize 2021 for his dissertation “Cost-efficient wet spinning of polyacrylonitrile fibers with alternative solvents”.
In cooperation with industry partners, he has developed a reverse osmosis water recovery system and an innovative spinning head design for large tow production. This enables production costs to be reduced and fiber qualities to be improved.
Overall, Dr. Peterek's work explains the opportunities and challenges of the polyacrylonitrile market and shows innovative and creative solutions for sustainable, safe and cost-efficient textile and carbon fiber production that meets current political and societal requirements. The selection of alternative solvents, the corresponding process design, their impact on fiber properties and production costs play a central part in this work.
The EU is currently regulating carcinogenic, mutagenic and fertility-damaging substances in order to improve occupational safety. This also affects those solvents that are most commonly used in the production of polyacrylonitrile fibers. In Dr. Peterek's work, the use of less toxic solvents was investigated and the challenges and opportunities of a process change were identified.