In just its first year of operation, Deakin University’s unique Carbon Nexus research centre has attracted industrial partners from nine countries, produced 75 batches of carbon fibre for research trials, and received nine local and national research excellence awards.
The birthday celebrations began early with the announcement in May of a $4.7 million ARC grant for the new Future Fibres Industrial Transformation Research Hub (ITRH) to develop advanced carbon fibres and nanofibres to support more sustainable and advanced manufacturing.
And with the recent announcement of a $1.76 million Geelong Region Innovation and Investment Fund grant for Carbon Nexus and Quickstep to establish a dedicated automotive division to be located at Deakin University, the future of Carbon Nexus – and Geelong – is looking brighter every day.
Carbon Nexus Director Derek Buckmaster explained that the year of achievements was just the beginning for Carbon Nexus.
“The Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for the ITRH is one example of how government and industry are confident in Carbon Nexus’ capacity to lead the way on the path to creating the world’s best carbon fibre and to driving the jobs of the future,” he said.
Mr Buckmaster, who has just returned from a visit to the United States where he participated in the inaugural meeting of the Institute of Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), said the global manufacturing industry was growing increasingly excited about the future capabilities of carbon fibre and that Carbon Nexus was playing a key role in its advancement.
“There are so many reasons to be excited about the future of advanced manufacturing through the development of better, lighter, stronger and more cost-effective carbon fibre,” he said.
“Carbon Nexus is well on the way to developing the most cost-effective PAN (polyacrylonitrile) based carbon fibre targeted for specific applications. This brings us one step closer to one of our main aims – reducing the cost of industrial-grade carbon fibre materials.
“Our carbon fibre production line is embedded within Deakin University, enabling innovative research outcomes and already working with industry on projects that are helping to drive the jobs of the future.
“Building a new industry takes commitment, an unwavering focus on innovation and strong partnerships between academia and industry – and that is what goes to the heart of Carbon Nexus.”
Research Director Professor Bronwyn Fox agreed, noting that the first year of activities for Carbon Nexus represented the culmination of the vision that was seeded at Deakin in 2008.
“Seven years ago we imagined Carbon Nexus to be a world-leading carbon fibre research institute, attracting future industries to research and invest in Geelong, and now this vision is becoming a reality,” she said.
Carbon Nexus by the numbers
- Agreements with 11 industry partners from nine countries including the United States, South Korea, Russia, China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Thailand.
- The production of 75 different batches of carbon fibre for research trials – this equates to approximately five tonnes of material and 2,250 bobbins.
- Processing of 18 different types of precursor materials, including PAN (polyacrylonitrile), cellulose, lignin and RAFT-polymerised precursor, from a range of research collaborators and industrial partners.
- Nine local and national research excellence awards, including the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) Gold Medal to Nisa Salim, the Smart Geelong Researcher of the Year award to Professor Bronwyn Fox.
- An Australian Research Council (ARC) $4.7 million grant for the new Future Fibres Industrial Transformation Research Hub to develop advanced carbon fibres and nanofibres to support more sustainable and advanced manufacturing.
- An ARC Discovery Grant of $345,500, for Carbon Nexus Research Director Professor Bronwyn Fox to investigate the use of spinifex grasses in carbon fibre production, in conjunction with the University of Queensland.
Future Fibres Hub
The Future Fibres Industrial Transformation Research Hub (ITRH) will build upon Deakin’s already extensive expertise in carbon fibre development and advanced materials, which is led by the Carbon Nexus, within Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials. It draws together partners from government, industry and higher education, including the Australian Government’s national science agency, the CSIRO.
Industry partners include carbon fibre parts manufacturers Carbon Revolution and Quickstep Holdings, along with HEIQ Australia, Cytomatrix, and the Ear Science Institute Australia. These partners are contributing an additional $3 million towards the Hub.
Overseas research collaborators on the project include the University of Oxford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tufts University, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, and the University of Southern Mississippi.