Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond is partnering with carbon fibre manufacturing pioneer Connie Jackson and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
LeMond Composites, a new company offering solutions for high-volume, low-cost carbon fibre, has secured a licensing agreement with US Department of Energy’s ORNL. The agreement will make the Oak Ridge-based LeMond Composites the first company to offer this new industry-disrupting carbon fibre to the transportation, renewable energy, and infrastructure markets.
A new process invented by Jackson and a research team at ORNL’s Carbon Fibre Technology Facility (CFTF) will reduce production costs by more than 50% relative to the lowest cost Industrial grade carbon fibre. Until now, manufacturing carbon fibre was an extremely energy-intensive process. This new method is claimed to reduce energy consumed during production by up to 60%.
The biggest obstacle to its widespread use has been the high cost of carbon fibre. This new process will allow high-volume, cost-sensitive industries around the world to reap the benefits of carbon fibre composites at a fraction of the cost while incorporating chemistry geared toward recyclability.
ORNL’s Carbon Fibre Technology Facility began operations in 2012, supported by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing and Vehicle Technologies offices, to demonstrate the possibility of low-cost carbon fibre at a semi-production scale.
Growing demand from the automotive industry is due in large part to the global push to increase the fuel economy of nearly every vehicle produced. In the USA, the demand is being driven by the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. These standards demand a fleet-wide average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025. The single best way to improve fuel economy is to reduce the weight of the cars and their component parts.
LeMond Composites plans to expand its campus by building its first carbon fibre production line in a recently purchased facility at 103 Palladium Way in Oak Ridge. The facility is strategically located immediately adjacent to ORNL’s Carbon Fibre Technology Facility. The first commercially available product will be ready in Q1 of 2018.