Honors Gallery

Methods of Making Carbon Fiber from Asphaltenes

Award: Notable Technology Development

Year: 2015

Award Type:

Region: Mid-Continent

Kansas City National Security Campus

Carbon fiber is superior to steel having 1/4 the weight yet 5 times the tensile strength, but its high cost limits it use. Currently most carbon fiber is made from expensive raw material nicknamed PAN.

An alternative is asphaltenes which are a byproduct of oil manufacturing and found in stockpiles. They are nearly 90% carbon, a rich and cheap raw material for carbon fiber. Scientists discovered that carbon fibers could be made from asphaltenes that would be both cost efficient and viable. The carbon fibers made by this method have a high thermal resistance and high tensile strengths and can be used to make various articles of manufacture while cleaning up the environment.