By helping to make airplanes faster, cheaper, quieter and more efficient, carbon fiber technology is key to staking out a competitive edge in international commercial aviation, according to a recent article in ClimateWire.
Carbon fiber is also another product of chemistry that enables U.S. efforts to make our energy supplies go further than ever while reducing energy costs.
The most obvious benefit of carbon fiber is enhancing fuel economy, but the potential savings extend to reduced maintenance and operating costs as well:
[quote]Carbon fiber is more durable than metal in a similar role since it doesn’t corrode or fatigue as easily, so maintenance will be cheaper over the plane’s lifetime. and cutting operating costs for airlines.[/quote]
In addition to growing uses in airplanes and automobiles, carbon fiber plays an important role in more efficiently harnessing energy from the wind. How? By making turbine blades lighter, longer, stiffer, and stronger.
Countries around the world are now vying for a stake in the global carbon fiber market, with the U.S. in particular aiming to retake the lead in the advanced materials market, thanks to its strengths in research and development (and our home-grown chemical engineers.)
In fact, the Department of Energy recently opened a “state-of-the-art carbon fiber technology facility” at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
And given what we’ve read about carbon fiber elevator cables making mile high skyscrapers possible, who knows what other types of carbon fiber innovations we could dream up next?
Photo via energy.gov