The words ‘carbon fibre’ probably bring to mind exotic Italian supercars and high-tech racing cars built on British industrial estates, but it could be about to be synonymous with Geelong. Yes, Geelong.
The CSIRO has announced the morning that Australia now has the capability to create carbon fibre from scratch and in volume, thanks to the development of a ‘wet spinning line’, located at Waurn Ponds, a south-western suburb of Geelong.
Built in Italy, the wet spinning line turns a chemical mixture into 500 individual fibre strands, each thinner than a human hair, which are wound onto a spool before being cooked in a carbonisation oven.
The CSIRO has worked in conjunction with Deakin University to “crack the code” of carbon fibre, and is confident that its patented technology will allow it to create the world’s strongest and highest quality carbon fibre.
CSIRO Director of Future Industries, Dr Anita Hill, said in a statement: “Together with Deakin, we’ve created something that could disrupt the entire carbon fibre manufacturing industry. This facility means Australian can carry out research across the whole carbon fibre value chain, from molecules, to polymers, to fibre, to finished composite parts.”
Geelong has become a hub for Australian carbon fibre expertise, with companies such as Carbon Revolution and Quickstep Automotive calling it home. Carbon Revolution supplies composite wheels for the Ford GT supercar and Shelby Mustang GT350R, while Quickstep Automotive created the carbon fibre air intake for the Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint.
Quickstep has also announced today that it has received a $1.45m government grant to develop carbon fibre composite seats for automotive applications.