Researchers have developed a way to add wood waste to carbon fiber, creating a less expensive—but still sturdy—version of the popular material.
Carbon fiber is well known for its strength and low weight, but its high price limits its uses to premium applications.
To increase the availability of the material, the team from Washington State University modified lignin—which can be recovered as a waste product from industries that use wood as raw material. They then altered the lignin to make it more similar to the polymer polyacrylonitrile plastic, used to spin carbon fibers. Adding the modified lignin to the carbon fiber mix resulted in fibers with properties similar to low or medium strength carbon fiber, lowering the overall cost of the material.
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