Carbon fibre is stronger and stiffer than steel, making it ideal for construction and manufacturing
Spotted: Using lignin, a common waste byproduct of the paper industry, researchers from the German Institute of Textile and Fibre Research in Denkendorf, Germany, created a bio-based carbon fibre. Carbon fibre is hugely valuable due to the combination of its thinness and strength. However, current versions are made from petroleum and consume vast amounts of natural resources. The production also produces great volumes of polluting emissions.
The new fibres are created through a chemical purification process. The scientists are working on eliminating the use of toxic liquids when spinning the cleaned lignin into fibres. At the moment, the team says that the new fibres cannot directly replace industrial carbon fibre because their performances are not quite as high.
As commercial demand for sustainable materials continues to grow, researchers could use the interest to generate opportunities to perform more new studies, thus developing the technology further and faster. With carbon fibre used in everything from aeroplanes to wind turbines and sports equipment, consumer demand could help perpetuate a positive cycle of innovation.
Written by: Keely Khoury