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Boeing Flight Boosts Carbon Fiber Hopes, Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley Poised
Date:12/18/2009

KNOXVILLE and OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Researchers and entrepreneurs in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley (www.knoxvilleoakridge.com) see the successful test of Boeing's 787 as the day the carbon fiber era took flight.

The Innovation Valley is home to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the Department of Energy's largest research center, which finds itself at the forefront of applied carbon fiber research.

The potential payoff from wider use of carbon fibers is impressive: materials with greater strength and a weight reduction of around 80 percent compared to steel. That's big news in many fields, but especially so in the car and truck industry where, by some estimates, lighter carbon fiber construction could contribute significantly to the U.S. Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) goal of building 80 mpg vehicles.

Carbon fiber comes at a steep price. While all carbon fiber does not have to be aerospace grade, production even of materials used in less demanding applications remains costly - often as much as 20 times the price of steel.

The challenge is to reduce the cost of production - which is a technical and economic impasse that leaves researchers in the Innovation Valley intrigued with the potential of several cheaper feedstocks, including '/>"/>

SOURCE Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley
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