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New methods of creating carbon fiber out of biological plant waste
Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology are making progress on developing new methods of creating carbon fiber out of biological plant waste -- a move that could lead to more cost-efficient and sustainable materials.
Associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology Joshua Yuan said work involves using an "abundant" plant waste called lignin.
Often left over from the paper and pulping industries and the production of ethanol in biorefineries.
To produce high-quality carbon fiber at one-half to one-third of the material's currently prohibitive cost.
This process could have wide-ranging positive effects for several industries and the general public.
Yuan said carbon fiber presents a similar strength to metals while maintaining a light weight.
Making it an attractive material for use in automobiles, planes and even sports equipment like tennis racquets and bicycles. The energy industry in particular could see benefits from the implementation of carbon fiber in automobiles.
Use of carbon fiber would produce lighter cars, which would then consume "significantly fewer fossil fuels." Other contributions could include the ability to use the material in wind-energy generators, making them more efficient.