US – The two companies have signed a joint development agreement to advance research on the cost-effective, high-volume production of carbon fibre for automotive applications. The partnership will combine Ford’s expertise in design, engineering and high-volume manufacturing with DowAksa’s feedstock capacity, carbon-fibre conversion and downstream intermediates.

The collaboration will enable the production of new, lower-cost, automotive grades of carbon fibre which can be applied to aligned and random fibre formats while maintaining compatibility with both thermoset and thermoplastic matrices; the components must be lighter than steel but still meet automotive strength requirements. There is an option for the extension of development collaboration into a commercial manufacturing partnership.

Mike Whitens, director, Vehicle Enterprise Sciences, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering said: “The goal of our work here fits within the company’s Blueprint for Sustainability, where future Ford vehicles will be lighter with optimised performance that would help consumers further improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.”

“Automotive manufacturers’ use of carbon fibre composites has been hindered by the absence of both high-volume manufacturing methods and affordable material formats,” added Mehmet Ali Berkman, DowAska vice-chairman. “This partnership combines the individual strengths of each company to target these challenges.”

As announced in January, Ford and DowAksa will be part of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) within the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation which is supported by the US Department of Energy.