Manufacturers rely on applied research and development to verify and validate new ideas, but another test that is just as important is commercialization. How do we take new innovations and bring them to the market so they can make a lasting impact in the way goods are made?
Earlier this year, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) announced a licensing opportunity for a new method of producing carbon fibers from multipurpose commercial fibers. The technology can reduce carbon fiber production costs by more than 50 percent, reduces energy consumed during production by up to 60 percent, and has applications across aerospace, transportation, energy, and infrastructure industries. LeMond Composites, based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, has become the first company to reach a licensing agreement to bring this innovative technology to market. LeMond hosted a celebration of the licensing agreement at their new facility which is adjacent to ORNL’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF). Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) Director Mark Johnson joined Greg LeMond, chairman and co-CEO of LeMond Composites and professional road racing cyclist, along with representatives from ORNL and the local government to recognize this milestone in carbon fiber technology.
The licensing agreement represents an important step forward in carbon fiber technology made possible by AMO’s investments in advanced manufacturing infrastructure like the CFTF, Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF), and the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). Public-private partnership drove the development of this technology and will also be responsible for bringing it to the market. The collaboration will help promote the vibrant regional technology-based ecosystem in Tennessee and represents the creation of 242 new jobs and a $125 million investment by LeMond to build its first carbon fiber production line at its new facility.
This is a prime example of what can be accomplished when the public and private sectors work together to advance new technologies. Each partner offers unique expertise and value which, when combined, can help drive innovative solutions to our nation’s pressing energy challenges.
To learn more about this new carbon fiber technology, click here.