Prof. Stefan Schafföner (left) and Dr. Günter Motz (right) (source: University of Bayreuth)
Composite materials containing carbon fiber are used today in aviation, automotive, aerospace, construction and wind turbines, but also in medical and sports products. Scientists at the University of Bayreuth/Germany are now seeking to research and develop a new generation of carbon fibers. The material is to be characterized by increased strength, remain stable even at temperatures of more than 400°C, and thus enable an even broader range of technological application. The German Research Foundation (DFG) will fund the project from May 2021 for the next 3 years to the tune of more than €600,000.
Carbon fibers are produced industrially from carbon-containing raw materials. They are very light and have very good mechanical properties. For this reason, fiber-reinforced plastics and fiber-reinforced ceramics are superior to many other materials. However, they have currently one significant disadvantage: At temperatures above 400°C, they begin to oxidize and consequently become unstable. As a result, they are not suitable for technological applications in which composite materials have to be heat-resistant for longer periods of time.
The new research project therefore aims to develop a new generation of carbon-based fibers that can be further processed into composite materials without much technical effort, but remain stable even at very high temperatures, and have increased strength. It combines experience from macromolecular chemistry and ceramic materials technology.
Of particular importance is the production of polymers characterized by the desired structures and properties, as well as electrospinning, which enables the production of the finely structured polymer fibers. This will be followed by the processes of curing and pyrolysis, so that the spun fibers finally represent a tailor-made reinforcement of plastics or ceramics.