ETU “LETI” Researchers Develop a Method to Reduce Costs for Carbon Fiber Production

To reduce the cost of carbon fiber production, ETU “LETI” researchers have developed an approach using an induction machine for high-temperature treatment of carbon fiber. Its design differs from all the existing analogs.

Carbon fiber is now popular and expensive material all over the world. It has unique mechanical properties: stiffness, lightness, and heat resistance. Today, it is widely used in aircraft, construction, automotive, shipbuilding, and other industries.

The final stage of carbon fiber production is graphitization, high-temperature fiber processing, for which the machines capable of heating the initial material to 3000 ° C are used. It is an expensive and complex process, which increases the costs of composite material. Currently, there are several types of high-temperature furnaces: induction heating units, resistive heating, using laser radiation.

“The advantage of our machine is the simple geometry of the graphite furnace and the lower price of an additional heater. It includes an 8000 mm long induction furnace, 600 kW power supply, capacitor battery, cooling station, and control system,” said Yuri Perevalov, a developer of the machine, senior teacher of the Department of Electrical Technology and Converter Engineering.

“All elements of the machine are part of a process line designed for the graphitization of continuously moving carbon filament yarns with adjustable movement speed and heat treatment temperature.”

The induction furnace will increase the production of high-quality next-generation construction material in Russia. At the same time, it will significantly reduce production costs.

The scientific director of the project is Viktor Demidovich, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor at ETU “LETI.” In the first stage, a digital twin of the system was created, which fully simulates the work of the machine. This allowed developing optimal design, high reliability, and prompt commissioning.

The developers managed to achieve one and a half times higher productivity of the machine compared to the initial one at the start of the project. The design of the machine, developed with the help of a digital twin, ensured reliable 24/7 operation of the plant at temperatures up to 3000°C at the second stage of research.

Since 2019, the machine is successfully operating at Carbon and Composite Materials Factory (Chelyabinsk). Today, the developers are busy improving the system to achieve even higher productivity.

The energy-efficient induction heating machine for carbon fiber graphitization developed at ETU “LETI” will help not only to strengthen high-tech exports but also to stimulate the development of modern, high-tech, and competitive products using carbon fiber reinforced polymers in construction.