Researchers Create New, Stronger Plant-Based Carbon Fibre

Researchers at the University of North Texas have created a new carbon fibre from plants that can replace the normal petroleum based products

The new patent-pending carbon fibre is made from C-lignin, a linear polymer that was discovered by UNT Research Professor Richard Dixon and Research Professor Fang Chen in 2012 and reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The C-lignin discovery was made while working on a research project for the U.S. Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Centre (BESC). UNT became a partner of the BioEnergy Science Center in 2013.

Lignin is the substance that helps plants stand upright, C-lignin which was discovered while working on a research project for the U.S. Department of Energy is found in high concentrations in the seed coats of plants including vanilla orchids and species of cactus.

Nandika D’Souza, a joint professor in UNT’s College of Engineering said;

Unlike carbon fibre made from other ligno-cellulose or lignin sources, C-lignin is ideal for creating naturally sourced carbon fibre because C-lignin fibres are linear, and can be easily processed into carbon fibre with the same equipment often used to produce fossil-fuel based carbon fibres.

The new carbon fibre was created in the laboratory that also engineers low carbon footprint products using bio-resources through the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation Program. Dixon and Chen outlined more commercial uses for lignin in a May 2014 issue of the Science Mag.