Partnerships

Mitsubishi Rayon and Fiberline Composites will found a joint venture company to manufacture and distribute carbon fibre composite laminates for wind turbine blades.

Mitsubishi Rayon will supply the large tow carbon fibre produced at its Otake Production Centre to the joint venture based in Denmark. The moulding and processing technologies of Fiberline, will be used to enable light-weight, price competitive composite laminates supply to the wind turbine blade market.

In recent years, the size of wind turbine blades have become longer as the widespread installation of off-shore wind power systems and the increasing importance of low wind site development demand more efficient power generation. Such large-sized wind turbine blades require carbon fibres replacing conventional glass fibres due to their rigidity and light-weight properties.

Carbon fibre composite laminates for wind turbine blades made using a pultrusion processes are superior in composite performance and process speed compared to other carbon fibre composite materials, this being reflected in the full-scale adoption of these by the world’s leading turbine manufacturer. Consequently pultruded laminates have become the industry standard. MRC will seek to expand its share in the carbon fibres wind turbine market through this joint venture.

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.

The National Composites Centre in Bristol has signed a collaborative innovation agreement with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST).

The agreement sets out to advance the innovation capability and capacity across the two organisations. Luxembourg’s aspirations to strengthen its (already strong) innovation capacity are supported by €1 billion for programmes and infrastructure, including the opening later this year of a €60m composites centre. The new centre will complement LIST’s capabilities, which include bio-based materials, nano additives and life cycle analysis, all of which are of interest to the NCC.

The National Composites Centre opened in 2011 and now employs over 200 staff. The NCC has the means to research, design, develop, prototype and test across a full range of relevant sectors. It has partnerships with Research and Technology Organisation’s and Universities in the UK and globally, to ensure delivery of the optimum solutions for industry.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the NCC and LIST offers an important opportunity to grow knowledge through partnership. This is a model that the NCC has utilised already with other leading intuitions such as the Japanese National Composites Centre and the Stichting Thermoplastic Composites Centre in the Netherlands, alongside University research groups across the world including the University of Bristol. The link between LIST and NCC will further advance exploitation of the opportunities of composites for the UK.

The new relationship will mean that Aston Martin can utilise a broader portfolio of Dow products and services for Aston Martin production models and race cars. The partnership will also accelerate development and demonstrate capabilities of new products and technologies in on-road and racing environments.

For over 25 years Dow Automotive has supplied Aston Martin with its range of structural adhesives, customising them to meet a wide range of open time and cure time requirements and bond many different materials, including electro-coated steel, anodised aluminium, carbon fibre and glass fibre reinforced composites.

Most recently, on the DB11, a structural adhesive was developed to adhere to anodised aluminium, providing long-term durability and improved crash performance. The adhesive also absorbs less moisture and enabled Aston Martin to delete the anodising oven drying process, resulting in annual energy savings.

The company’s glass bonding systems are also used to bond front, rear and side glazing as well as bonding the Vanquish carbon fibre composite roof. Polyurethane body sealant is also used for primer-less adhesion to a variety of substrates.

Boeing has announced that it will source carbon fibre prepreg composite material for the Boeing 777X from a new joint venture formed by Mubadala Development Company and Solvay.

First introduced in the 1970s, prepreg composites are a combination of high-strength carbon fibre and toughened epoxy resin. The 777X was the first commercial airplane to contain structurally significant composite parts. Composites account for 50% of structural weight of the 787 Dreamliner, and the 777X will have the world’s largest composite wing. Production of the 777X will begin in 2017, with its first delivery in 2020.

Boeing is the first customer for the Mubadala-Solvay joint venture, which will produce primary structure composite material for use in manufacturing the 777X empennage and floor beams. Mubadala and Solvay are planning for the joint venture to be operational by 2021 in a new facility built in Al Ain, U.A.E.

Since 2009, Boeing and Mubadala have signed several agreements to advance their collaboration in mutually beneficial ways, including in aerospace composites manufacturing. In 2013, Boeing and Mubadala announced a new Framework Strategic Agreement to increase the long-term role of Mubadala as a direct supplier to Boeing, including support as Mubadala developed prepreg manufacturing in the U.A.E.

Polynt and Reichhold has announced a definitive agreement to effect the combination of the two businesses.

Polynt Group is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of specialties, intermediates and composites for the industrial, transportation, building and construction, marine, medical, consumer, and food additive markets. Reichhold is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of unsaturated polyester resins and a leading supplier of coating resins for the industrial, transportation, building and construction, marine, consumer and graphic arts markets.

The business combination is expected to create a leading global manufacturer of resins for composites and coatings and of other specialised chemicals, including intermediates, plasticisers, additives and compounds.

Currently, Polynt is wholly owned by funds managed by Investindustrial, and Reichhold is owned by a group of investors, including funds managed by Black Diamond Capital Management. The two companies intend to become equal investors and, collectively, majority stakeholders in the combined business. The transaction is subject to requisite regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016.

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